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The unfortunate reason why Jack Nowell and Manu Tuilagi get on so well

By PA
during the England captain's run at Pennyhill Park on November 16, 2018 in Bagshot, England.

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Jack Nowell and Manu Tuilagi may pass like “ships in the night” when on England duty, but they have still developed a strong bond amid the shared misery of injury.

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Nowell has battled back from a broken arm in time to take part in the three-Test series against Australia that begins at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Saturday, when he is expected to line up on the wing.

Tuilagi, however, misses the tour completely because of knee surgery that has written another painful chapter in a stop-start career ravaged by repeated spells in rehabilitation.

Both players have been only sporadically available to England, robbing the team of two hard-running gamebreakers who have since turned to each other for support in dark times.

“Manu’s in a similar position to me in terms of his injures. I speak to Manu quite a lot,” Nowell said.

“When we’re in camp I quite often room with him, our partners are quite close and our kids are a similar age as well.

“A few weeks before we came out here I went up to see him to see how he’s getting on. I quite often speak to the Chief.

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“He’s always one of the first people to text me when he hears I’m injured at club level and vice versa.

“During the Six Nations we laughed quite a bit because we were always missing each other. We kept saying we were like ships in the night.

“We were both lined up to play in the Wales game together, but he was injured on his last training day. We kind of both know what we’re going through.

“A lot of the lads that are fit all the time and are lucky enough to stay injury free don’t really get that. When you’re in that unfortunate position and see the darkness of it…it’s quite tough.”

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At the start of the season Nowell made changes to his lifestyle, including quitting alcohol to help reduce weight, and he quickly felt the benefits on the field.

But although the attempt to reduce the number of injuries that were requiring lengthy spells in the treatment room worked, misfortune struck at the end of the Six Nations that no preventative measure could have stopped.

“Touch wood I feel I’m in a good little spot at the moment. There wasn’t anything I could do about breaking my arm against France,” Nowell said.

“I jumped up for a high ball, landed on it funny and had a clean break of my radius. It’s just one of those things.

“The injuries I really did struggle with were the muscle tears and then rushing to get back after I had my foot operated on.

“I was desperate to get back for the autumn, but I didn’t make it because my foot wasn’t right.

“Then I was desperate to get back for the Six Nations, rushed it and tore my hamstring. Hopefully this is me going forward.

“If anyone works out how much I’ve been out for in total, please don’t tell me. It’s depressing!

“I try not to take things too seriously. If I started thinking like that I think I’d get bogged down quite a bit. At the end of the day we’re injured and it sucks, but things could be a lot worse.”

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