Manu back and aim­ing for a big Six Na­tions

The Rugby Paper - - Front Page - ■ By GARY FITZGERALD

MANU Tuilagi can make up for lost time this Christmas and prove he has lost none of his ex­plo­sive tal­ent.

Mathew Tait claims his Le­ices­ter Tigers team-mate re­mains “the finest phys­i­cal spec­i­men” he has seen on a rugby field, and is happy to play along­side him rather than against.

Tait is also adamant that once Tuilagi does start prov­ing to Ed­die Jones he can still ham­mer holes in op­po­si­tion de­fences he will wear the white jersey again in the Six Na­tions.

Tigers boss Matt O’Con­nor chose against throw­ing the cen­tre back into the lime­light at Wasps yes­ter­day, pre­fer­ring to give him an­other week to re­cover from his se­ri­ous knee prob­lem.

As a re­sult, Tuilagi, 26, is now likely to make his long-awaited re­turn in next Satur­day’s cru­cial Cham­pi­ons Cup visit to Mun­ster. It is 21 months since the Pa­cific Is­land-born star won the last of his 26 caps, and Tait reck­ons Eng­land fans will even­tu­ally see the very best of Manu soon.

He in­sisted: “Manu can now see the end of a very long, dif­fi­cult road. He is just des­per­ate to play and we’re all des­per­ate to have him back on the pitch with us.

“In my eyes there’s no one in world rugby quite like him. As a phys­i­cal spec­i­men he’s amaz­ing and

he’s an in­cred­i­ble player when he’s fit and do­ing his thing. I’ve cer­tainly never played against any­one like him.

“Manu isn’t a per­son who wants sym­pa­thy but hav­ing been through it my­self it’s a real tough thing. He’s a pro­fes­sional sports­man and also a young man try­ing to ful­fil his po­ten­tial and be the best he can as a rugby player.

“He has been in good spir­its and is a huge part of our group. He’s been mak­ing plenty of cof­fees for the boys so far this sea­son!

“Touch wood, if all goes to plan and he man­ages to stay fit, get a run of games un­der his belt and show his best, I’m sure the Eng­land door will be open for the Six Na­tions.

“The team has been out­stand­ing un­der Ed­die Jones and hav­ing Manu back push­ing for a place would only make things even bet­ter and stronger look­ing ahead and to the next World Cup.”

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