The Tonga full-back struck up a close relationship with Tuilagi after suffering a foot injury that resulted in eight months of treatment but it has healed in time for him to take part in the World Cup in Japan.
It was during his rehabilitation that he tapped into the experience of Tuilagi, who has finally been restored to full fitness following a sickening run of injuries spanning four years.
“Manu lives less than 100 metres from me and can be a nuisance sometimes, but he helped me settle in at Leicester,” Veainu said. “He has been through some dark times with injuries as well. He told me everything happens for a reason.
“If I hadn’t got injured I would have missed my daughter’s birth last November because I would have been in Wales with Tonga. It’s a relief to be at the World Cup.
“I had eight months out and my first game back was the second-last one of the season, so it’s a relief to be here and I am so looking forward to it, especially with so many Leicester guys in the England squad. I will try to play as dirty as I can.”
“I’m so looking forward to it, especially with so many Leicester guys in the England squad. I will try to play as dirty as I can!”
Veainu can’t wait for his second World Cup finals to start. “Tonga was a life-saver for me in 2015. I was at one of my lowest points because I had hardly played any rugby for the (Melbourne) Rebels that season and I wasn’t going anywhere,” he explained.
“After being called up by them [Tonga], I managed to turn things around and signed for Leicester, so I will always be grateful.”