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Manchester visit by Jones has left Sale 'confident' over Tuilagi

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

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Sale boss Alex Sanderson believes the Sharks and England are on the same wavelength about what is best for the delicate Manu Tuilagi, the powerhouse midfielder who missed the latest Guinness Six Nations entirely through injury. The 31-year-old’s career has been pockmarked by lengthy stints on the sidelines and this season was no exception, the centre damaging a hamstring when scoring during England’s November win over South Africa. 

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Nursed back to fitness over the winter, he returned with his club for two matches at the start of February and was then called up to the England squad. However, within hours of being named to start against Wales at the end of that month, he had to withdraw with another hamstring injury. 

It wasn’t until the start of April that he was playing again for his club after missing out at Test level and Sale has reported that they would be in discussions with England to try and tease out what had gone wrong and what was the way of moving forward.   

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The Breakdown | Episode 13 | Sky Sport NZ
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At the time of Tuilagi’s latest injury, Sanderson has said: “We have spoken to Eddie and we liaise with their physios and S&Cs and we are all on the same page and we have agreed to catch up post the Six Nations to understand how we can manage him potentially better, but we are struggling to see how we can at the moment apart from it just being too much too soon.”

That catch-up happened on Monday when Jones and Jon Clarke, the England head of S&C, visited Tuilagi at the Sale training ground at Carrington. Asked if he would be anxious about his player now heading into England camp next weekend ahead of his likely Australian tour involvement or whether the best way forward to guard against injury had been agreed, Sanderson said: “More the latter. 

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“You have to, don’t you, or you end up every time he makes a break I’d be thinking he might get injured. But no, it’s not the case. He has been in great form, he has probably played longer minutes than he has played since my time here, he has been playing 80-minute stints. In Bristol, we had to put him back on even though we took him off so he played 75 minutes then. Jon Clarke came up on Monday, who is the head of performance at the RFU, to meet individually with our S&C guys and with the players, Tom (Curry), Manu and Bev (Rodd). 

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“Eddie saw them all individually and I caught up with Eddie as well for a bit of food, so the communication couldn’t be any better. It is certainly the best it has been with England with regards to the care of the players. I am as confident as I could ever be that they are going to get looked after.”

After naming Tuilagi on Tuesday in his 36-strong mini-camp training squad, England boss Jones had said: “I caught up with Manu last night [Monday] in Manchester, he was looking very fit and enthusiastic and he really wants to make an imprint in this Australian tour. Our job with Sale is to get him physically right and ready to go.”

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