England v Australia: Manu Tuilagi says long-awaited return was 'special'

Manu Tuilagi
The Samoa-born centre came made his first appearance for England since March 2016

England centre Manu Tuilagi says his long-awaited Test return on Saturday was a "special day".

The 27-year-old was a 69th-minute replacement in England's emphatic 37-18 win over Australia at Twickenham.

Tuilagi, who won his 27th cap, was playing in his second international match since 2014 after last playing against Wales in March 2016.

"It was good to be back playing for England. It's been a long time," the Leicester player told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I really enjoyed it; the build-up, the process coming in to the ground and seeing all the fans, it's nice.

"The main thing that I'm really happy to be part of is that performance, from the whole team and when we come away with a win like that, it's exciting."

Tuilagi has endured a long list of injury setbacks, including a groin problem which ruled him out of this month's Tests against South Africa, New Zealand and Japan.

"I didn't do much out there but just try and stay with the team's system and and carry on what Sladey [England team-mate Henry Slade] had been doing in that 70 minutes.

"[The reception] was amazing. It was loud. You just try and push to do your best for yourself, for the crowd and for your family. I think I could hear my little one screaming in the crowd."

Manu Tuilagi
The 27-year-old last featured for England as a 63rd-minute substitute against Wales in March 2016

Tuilagi's return was watched by a crowd of 81,275 at Twickenham, including his partner, brothers, nephews and friends.

When asked if all six of his brothers attended, he replied: "Not quite all of them, it's quite hard to get all of us in one place! But it was a special, special day."

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