Ireland centre Bundee Aki has revealed he is looking to ‘make a mark’ on England’s Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi in the Six Nations opener in Dublin, Sky Sports report.
Tuilagi has been named in Eddie Jones’ starting line-up for the highly anticipated fixture, with Tuilagi set to make his first Six Nations appearance since 2013.
Aki, on the other hand, played a key role for the Irish last year, as Joe Schmidt’s side claimed the grand slam.
The pair first met 12 years ago in a sixth-form game when New Zealand-born Aki’s Truro College side came up against Tuilagi’s John Cleveland College.
And talking to the media ahead of the opening round of fixtures, Aki praised the English duo but admitted he will be looking to make a statement early on in the match.
The likes of Owen Farrell and Manu, they are very physical. Farrell is deceptively strong and Manu is just the same. You can see it in the way he carries the ball.
In any game you play against the English, you’ve just got to make sure your physicality is up there. You can’t go in there thinking they will play a wide game and you forget about the physicality.
That’s your first point of contact, making sure you make a statement and make a mark on that.
Both sides have stated in the build-up to the fixture how they expect a brutal game and Tuilagi and Aki’s face off could be the most explosive in Dublin.