The 20-year-old, who has played in the Premiership for just one season, almost faced deportation from the UK a year ago.
Despite the controversy, Wilkinson is confident the Samoan-born player will stand out in England for years to come.
“I have been fortunate enough to see a lot of different players coming through with a lot of different abilities that spans the likes of Jason Robinson through any number of young guys,” The Telegraph quotes Wilkinson as saying.
“Manu has that kind of aura — that Jason Robinson-esque uniqueness to impact on a game. When an individual has that ability to change a game that is so based on the collective team performance, you know he has to be special.”
Wilkinson has claimed his spot in the starting XV for Saturday and will gain his 86th cap for his country.