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Where the blame lies for Manu Tuilagi's injury

By PA
Manu Tuilagi /PA

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Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson has refused to blame England for Manu Tuilagi’s latest injury problem, saying “it’s no good pointing fingers.”

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Tuilagi played two games for Sale after recovering from a hamstring issue before being brought back into the Red Rose squad.

He was initially named to start against Wales but pulled out after suffering another setback.

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“He shouldn’t be out for more than a couple of weeks,” Sanderson said. “The intensity in England training is higher, as it should be for an international game, and it was obviously a step too far, too soon for him.

“We were pushing for it, we wanted him to play for England. We want all our lads to play at the highest level they can.

“Everyone wants him to play for England. England do, we do, Manu does, so none of what happened is intentional.

“It’s no good pointing fingers. We’ll learn to manage him better and I think we will moving forwards.”

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Sanderson’s comments came after their thrilling 27-27 Premiership draw with London Irish at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The Sharks were on a four-match winning run in the league going into this game and went into the final quarter 27-22 ahead following tries for Dan Du Preez, who touched down twice, Jean-Luc Du Preez and Arron Reed.

Irish struck back, however, and levelled matters via Nick Phipps, who added to earlier scores from Terrence Hepetema, James Stokes and Benhard Janse van Rensburg.

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Phipps’ try gave Paddy Jackson a chance to take the visitors into the lead, but the fly-half was awry with the conversion, as well as a late penalty attempt.

“I couldn’t be prouder of their intent and the effort of the lads to come from behind,” Sanderson added. “Then to keep coming back and to keep scrapping, If you’ve got those things at the core of your team, which we seem to have over the last four or five weeks, you’re in a good spot.

“There was a level of intensity throughout that game, I didn’t think it dipped at all. There were chances for both teams in the first half which weren’t taken, but in the second half they were. I think it was just a case of better execution.

“I’m pretty buoyant. We asked for work, we asked for physicality. I’m happy with their effort and intensity. We’re continuing the momentum we’re building.”

London Irish head coach Les Kiss was also content with the draw but did admit there were “mixed emotions” in the Exiles camp.

“They’ve got an imposing home record so to get three points I’m very happy,” Kiss said. “There’s a little bit of mixed emotions as we’ve played the attacking rugby we like, we just didn’t put another one over the line and Paddy missed a couple of kicks, but those things happen.

“They scored their tries when we had the yellows, so discipline was costly, but it’s not a habit of ours. I think we’ve been a disciplined team most of the time, so we’ll have a look at it, but you don’t come here and take points easily off this team.

“We’ve got to pack away the good things that came out of it but obviously we can’t be fully accepting of not getting the win.”

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