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England rocked by the news that Manu Tuilagi is OUT of Wales game

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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England have been dealt a massive blow less than 48 hours out from their Guinness Six Nations match versus Wales on Saturday as it has been confirmed that Manu Tuilagi will now not take any part in the match. 

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The Sale midfielder had been chosen as the England No12 when Eddie Jones named his team at 11:30am on Thursday but he was scratched from the side at 7:45pm that evening, resulting in the recall of the axed Joe Marchant to the squad.

An RFU statement read: “England’s Manu Tuilagi is unavailable to play in this weekend’s Guinness Six Nations game against Wales due to injury. It was confirmed after a scan on Thursday afternoon, following training, that Tuilagi has suffered a low-grade hamstring injury.

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“Joe Marchant has been recalled and will train with the squad tomorrow [Friday] at the Honda England Rugby Performance Centre at Pennyhill Park. The updated team will be confirmed on match day [Saturday].”

Cut from the England squad on Tuesday evening when it was reduced from 35 to 25, Marchant, a starter against both Scotland and Italy, was named on the wing for Harlequins in their Gallagher Premiership game on Friday night at Worcester but he has now been hooked from taking part in that match.

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Tuilagi missed the opening two matches of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations in Edinburgh and Rome due to a hamstring injury but was recalled to the England squad having proven his fitness with two recent appearances for Sale. He was sidelined for eleven weeks after he was hurt when scoring against the Springboks in November but was restored to the England midfield on Thursday at the expense of Marchant.

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Tuilagi was supposed to wear the No12 shirt on Saturday with Henry Slade shifting out to No13, but England will now have to rejig their team. They fielded a midfield partnership of Slade/Marchant in Rome, having selected Slade with Elliot Daly in the round one loss at Scotland.

“Manu is a gain line accumulator,” enthused Jones at his media briefing after the inclusion of Tuilagi was one of four changes from the XV that started the win over Italy. “He wins the gain line pretty consistently, he draws defenders in which creates space for other options and he does that better than anyone else in the world when he is at full tilt and we are planning for him to be full tilt on Saturday.”

Tuilagi’s Sale boss Alex Sanderson had spoken last week about the lengths the club and England had gone to so that the midfield powerhouse could return to the international rugby fold. “If anything we want to be more cautious and careful with his increasing loading,” explained Sanderson about the Tuilagi club return that saw him play 30 minutes as a sub at Harlequins followed by a 50-minute start in the Sale midfield at home to Worcester.

“There are very few people who can step up to that (Test) level without having trained up to it. It’s like when you wake up one day and say, ‘I am going to go and win the Olympics’. Firstly you have got to be genetically predisposed and then you have got to put years in training, haven’t you? He has – but he still needs that incremental increase in training week in week out so he can just train at that level otherwise he will break down.

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We borrowed the (England) GPS over the last two weeks and we have given them what our recommendations are for his loading and what works for him in terms of treatment to keep him mobile and fresh.

“I haven’t been in the job long but even with the experience back at Saracens, I haven’t been aware of anything this collaborative in the past over from player. I am really confident we are going to get it right.”

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