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Latest Sale update on Tuilagi, Curry comes with an England warning

By Liam Heagney
Sale's Tom Curry and Manu Tuilagi on England duty (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Alex Sanderson has revealed that Manu Tuilagi has been busy on the Sale training field ahead of this Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership semi-final, adding that Tom Curry is available for selection following his lengthy lay-off.

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The Bayonne-bound Tuilagi limped off less than 18 minutes into the Sharks’ season-extending win at Saracens on May 18, damaging his hamstring in the 20-10 victory that qualified them for the semi-finals as the third-best team on the table.

Sanderson refused to admit in the aftermath at StoneX Stadium that Tuilagi might have played his final match for the Manchester club, referencing how the midfielder had a reputation as a quick healer and could be in with a shout of making it onto The Rec for the play-offs.

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The director of rugby has now provided an injury update four days out from the semi-final. “Very well, he is very positive,” said Sanderson about Tuilagi. “He is out there on the training field. We have given him as long as we can and he is a quick healer, so hope springs eternal that he will make it for the weekend.

“It’s a high-grade one, so it’s about as good as you can get in terms of injuries if there is such a thing as good injuries. There’s isn’t but for someone who has had a lot of them and knows how to rehab, knows his body, for the severity it’s as good a news as we could have hoped for.”

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Switching to Curry, Tuilagi’s former England teammate now that he has committed to his 2024/25 move to France, Sanderson confirmed that the back-rower is available for semi-final selection having been sidelined with the operated-on hip injury that left him seized up last November on the Sale training ground following the Rugby World Cup in France.

“Tom Curry is up for selection, which is great news. Whether or not he makes the team I’ll let the media and the press deliver that news when the time comes,” he said before explaining the selection dilemma he now faces as it is the shirt of Sam Dugdale, Sale’s man of the match at Saracens, that Curry is looking to take.

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“I’ll try and weigh it up without telling you what my selection is, our selection because we select as a group. You don’t change a winning team, do you? That’s like a cliché.

“Also, we want to do what is right by Tom. This is an international intensity, international quality match. It will be for all the physicality and ball in play time – just the quality of player that is out on the pitch.

“It’s a lot to ask. It’s not to say we are not going to ask but it’s a lot to ask for someone who has been out for seven or eight months to step into an international game. So these are the things we have got to weigh up, and that versus the quality of Sam Dugdale, who kind of epitomises our team.

“Not the most popular of player in the past, not the biggest, doesn’t have like a reel of Hollywood moments but he has a lot of moments which are significant in games and that is why he has been man of the matches. He has been a part of every squad for every game we have had this season. That shows his resilience and robustness. He epitomises us.”

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The first match of England’s three-game summer tour is scheduled away to Japan in Tokyo on June 22, three weeks after the Sale semi-final at Bath. Would Sanderson like to see Curry selected by Steve Borthwick for a trip that also includes a two-Test series in New Zealand on Jnly 6 and 13?

“It’s not down to me. I will have a conversation, this will be between me and Tom, and Steve… if his body is good and he’s fit and it’s something that Tom wants to do and Steve needs him and needs him as a senior leader, it could be a good opportunity to get his (Test) career back on.

“I know he wants to play for England but understanding he has got a limited shelf life, when you do you want to play those international games? Whatever he plays in this off-season will take away games at the back end of his career. Guaranteed. So there is a careful management of Tom, perhaps more considered than what it was in the past.”

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Turlough 1 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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