Head coach John Wells insists Alesana Tuilagi still has the hunger to make the giant winger a smash hit at Newcastle Falcons.
The Samoan powerhouse was a three-time Premiership title winner during eight blockbusting seasons with Leicester Tigers, Wells on the coaching staff as he made his breakthrough in the game.
Now 33 but fresh from two short seasons in Japan, Wells believes the fire still burns within one of the most destructive runners of the modern game.
“He brings power, directness and respect to begin with,” said the Falcons’ head coach when asked what Newcastle’s fans can expect from their box-office signing.
“When he was in his pomp at Leicester he won games on his own and I would like to think we can make use of some of those qualities he has.”
Determined for his side to shake off their tag as the Premiership’s lowest try-scorers, Wells highlighted the line-breaking ability of Tuilagi (right) as a key ingredient in their beefed-up attacking armoury when the campaign starts at former club Leicester on September 6.
He added: “With Alesana and Sinoti in our ranks, having guys like that gives us people who we know can bust a tackle. Whether they play together or not will depend on selection, form and fitness, but they can cause problems even for teams who have well-organised defences.
“You need that little bit of X-factor.
“We can be as organised and well-drilled as any team in the Premiership, but within that you need something a little bit special to break teams down.”
Shaking off any fears Tuilagi has simply come to Newcastle for one last easy pay-day, Wells said: “I don’t think Dean Richards would have even considered bringing him in if he thought he was just coming here to make up the numbers. Samoans are too proud a nation and too proud as individuals, and both myself and Dean have had a lot to do with the family down the years.”
With younger brother Anitilea (Andy) joining Alesana (Alex) on Tyneside, he added: “It was Dean who first brought their older brother Freddie over from rugby league back in 2000.
“The dynasty has benefited from that initial introduction through the likes of Henry and Manu, as well as the two we have brought over.
“Now we find Alex and Andy are back here with Newcastle, and a lot of that is down to Dean’s relationship with Freddie.
“I would like to think they are coming here to do the job and that they will help make us a better team.”