Manu down for England
TUILAGI MISSES AUTUMN TESTS
MANU TUILAGI has been ruled out of England’s autumn series with a groin injury, his club Leicester announced last night.
Tuilagi limped off after 15 minutes of Saturday’s 25-18 Champions Cup victory over Ulster and will miss the Tests against New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia starting next month.
A time frame for Tuilagi’s return is expected in the coming days, with the British and Irish Lion having suffered a different groin injury to the one that sidelined him for three Premiership games last month.
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill stressed that centre Tuilagi’s rehabilitation will not be rushed to enable him to make the end of England’s QBE Series, which begins against the All Blacks on November 8.
“Manu has had scans and we are still waiting for the exact prognosis. He won’t be fit for the autumn internationals for sure,” Cockerill said.
“You’d imagine it being four weeks plus before he’s back on the field. He’ll struggle to be involved.
“We had the England doctor in and everybody’s aware of the situation. It’s a continual dialogue.
“We know how good Manu is. He doesn’t need to prove himself, he just needs to get himself fit. That’s the key for me. If he’s right and fit then he’s as good as there is.
“It’s not about him playing at the back end of the autumn, it’s about him being fit and making sure he’s 100 per cent so he can come back and do what Manu does.”
Tuilagi first damaged his groin in the 24-20 Premiership victory at Exeter on September 13.
“It’s a slightly different injury. He went to push off and accelerate and he thought he was going to score,” Cockerill added.
“He backed himself, felt his groin go and there was no power.
“At this point we just need to find out exactly what the problem is and find the right treatment.”
The news is a major setback for England coach Stuart Lancaster (right) who has been robbed of his main strike weapon for a key part of his World Cup 2015 preparations.
If fit, Tuilagi was a guaranteed starter against New Zealand.
Cockerill said: “Of course he’s frustrated, but he’s pretty level-headed and is a good pro. His concern is to get fit.”
Lancaster names his 33-man player squad for the autumn today.
CROCKED: England will badly miss their danger man Tuilagi