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'He's grafting and doing all he needs to do': The latest from Sale on Tuilagi's race for Lions tour fitness

By Chris Jones
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Manu Tuilagi is facing a race against time to make it back from achilles surgery before the end of the season, making it highly unlikely he can bid for a place on the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in July.


Tuilagi was injured playing for Sale against Northampton in September, the latest serious injury setback in a career that has brought him 43 caps and 18 tries for England and a single Test for the Lions against Australia on the 2013 tour.

As one of England’s most effective backline ball carriers, his loss is being keenly felt by club and country and Paul Deacon, the acting Sale head coach, has admitted Tuilagi is still hampered by the leg injury although he is working extremely hard on the other areas of his body in the club gym.

Video Spacer

Brian Moore in conversation with Jim Hamilton

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Brian Moore in conversation with Jim Hamilton

Deacon said: “Manu is working really hard in the gym with his rehab and he is a good few months off yet from the injury he got. Hopefully, we will see him before the end of the season but we will have to see. If the way he is working is anything to go by then there is a good chance.

“He is doing a lot of boxing, but there is no way he can run yet with his achilles. He is grafting and doing all he needs to do. He is doing everything you would expect from an international of his calibre.”

The layoff is the latest lengthy stint on the sidelines for Tuilagi who missed 15 months after injuring his groin in October 2014 and damaging knee ligaments in January 2017.

Having quit Leicester to move to Sale in July, Tuilagi has been working alongside World Cup-winning Springbok lock Lood de Jager who is coming back from the third shoulder operation of his playing career. De Jager has been running messages during recent games but he is also some way off playing again.


Sale have lost three games in a row since the surprise exit of Steve Diamond and they now head to Gloucester on Saturday with Deacon hoping for his first victory as acting head coach. 

“Gloucester are a good solid team and we have to be at the top of our game to get any result,” he said. “I don’t see myself as a director of rugby and would like to be the head coach. I was attack coach when Steve was here and I want to be on the field with the players all the time.”


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