Eddie Jones will be force to find a new centre pairing after Ben Te’o has been left out of England’s squad following an injury concern.
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Next man up! Manu Tuilagi is in line for his first Six Nations start for England in six years after Ben Te'o has been ruled out with injury. @tuilagimanu @englandrugby @sixnationsrugby #englandrugby #sixnations #nextmanuup #6nations #IREvENG #rugby? #gallagherprem #premrugby #leicestertigers #tuilagi
Tuilagi himself has battled multiple injuries for the better part of a decade, suffering a torn pectoral muscle twice, four groin injuries, a fractured cheekbone, three knee injuries and three hamstring injuries since late 2011.
The 27-year-old spoke recently how his injury problems motivated him to get healthy, as well as taking greater care of his body in preparations.
“I’ve had the ‘Manu’s injury prone’ stuff and it does bother you, but it’s also motivation to stay fit. I take a lot of time before every session to make sure I’m ready, which I didn’t used to do. I get there 30 minutes early and afterwards I do the ice baths, the recovery, the massages,” he told The Times.
Tuilgai believes he is a better player than the one who dominated the All Blacks at Twickenham several years ago.
“My understanding of the game is better — 100 percent. Mentally, I am stronger than ever. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been injured so much or I just got older, but I want to get something from every single session.
“Physically, I am nearly there,” he said.
“It’s not that anything is missing; it’s just the feeling in my body — I’m slow to warm up.”
Eddie Jones’ men visit Dublin on Saturday hoping to end Ireland’s hopes of a second successive Grand Slam in the first week of the tournament.
Each of the last five Six Nations titles have been won by either Ireland (3) or England (2), but whoever tastes defeat at the Aviva Stadium is likely to have an uphill climb to lift the trophy again in 2019.
Wasps flanker Brad Shields was also ruled out of the squad, as was Bath’s Joe Cokanasiga who is unavailable because of a knee injury, with Harlequins back row Jack Clifford having already been ruled out after taking a knock to the head.
Scrum-half Dan Robson could make his international debut after being included in the 25.
“We have Brad Shields, Joe Cokanasiga and Ben Te’o who are not far away from where we want them to be but in a game of this magnitude we need everyone to be 100 per cent so they will stay with us and continue to rehab,” said scrum coach Neal Hatley. “The plan is to have them all fit for France.
“Ben suffered a small side strain in training, he is doing his rehab, is not far away, but as I say everyone needs to be fully fit.
“We have had people running in different positions so we are pretty good at that and we make sure we comprehensively cover all the different permutations of what could happen so it’s not like Ben is the only person who has run at 12 for us.”
Squad in full:
Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Nathan Hughes, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Kyle Sinckler, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Harry Williams, Mark Wilson.
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