Rugby World Cup 2011
Tuilagi: I let everybody down
October 16, 2011
Manu Tuilagi was one of a number of England players who let himself down in New Zealand © Getty Images
Manu Tuilagi insists that he is now fully aware of just how stupidly he behaved in getting himself detained by police after jumping off a ferry into Auckland harbour following England's World Cup exit at the hands of France last weekend.
The 20-year-old Leicester Tigers centre was fined £3,000 by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for his actions but the greater damage was done to his reputation. Indeed, his intelligence and common sense was called into question after the incident given that it occurred after a campaign in which the off-field behaviour of England's players had come in for so much criticism.
And Tuilagi admitted to the Mail on Sunday: "It was such a stupid thing to do, wasn't it? I've let down my family, I've let down Martin Johnson [team manager] and I've let down the people of England.
"I didn't mean to offend anyone. I didn't kill anyone, I just took a swim. It was a lot worse because it was the day after losing to France and it was at the end of a tournament in which too much focus had been on what the players had been up to off the field.
"I thought I had a decent World Cup on the field but people will be talking about my swim more than my play and, for that reason, I am very disappointed with myself.
"It's only really since I've returned to England and left the World Cup bubble that I've realised people are not too happy with us because of how we played and how we behaved.
"I've already had a long, hard think about how I've conducted myself and, of course, all my brothers have been talking to me, too. I'm going to have to learn quickly but I will. And from now on, I want most of my talking to be done on the rugby pitch."
As already alluded to, Tuiliagi's misdeameanour was the latest in a long line of off-field indiscretions by English players during their time in New Zealand, raising question marks over Johnson's ability to control his dressing room. However, Tuilagi insists that Johnson has the full respect of the squad and is hoping that the World Cup winner continues on in his role as team manager after the World Cup.
"Every single player wants him to stay in charge," he said. "You could see how much losing hurt him and if I've now added to the pressure on his shoulders, then I'm very, very sorry."
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