It’s been a long road back to fitness for Manu Tuilagi, but this week the centre found himself amongst the names of Eddie Jones training squad.
Having only made one international appearance in the last four years, the Samoan native has turned his hand to another, slightly less violent sport, in his absence from rugby.
Tuilagi has become an avid snooker fan, having been pictured at this year’s World Championships in Sheffield with Fred Tuilagi, Ellis Genge and Afa Pakalani.
“I’m not too bad at it,” said Tuilagi when speaking to the Daily Mail. “My highest break in practice is 55 and in a match it’s 40.”
And the sport appears to be much more than a fleeting interest for the 27-year old saying, “you have to dress up for it, which is good. It’s a very serious game. It’s very quiet — a bit too quiet. A few of the Tigers boys play. We’ve just finished our summer league.”
Snooker helped Tuilagi at a time when his body needed a break while still giving him an outlet for his competitive streak.
The journey has been a long one for former Brittish and Irish Lion, ‘you always say you will get back, but you have a lot of dark days as well,’ said Tuilagi.
“All the boys helped me stay positive. I think there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. I always think I will get back. Nothing changes. Otherwise there is no point being here and playing. It’s been very tough, but that’s just life. We have Matt Thombs, the psychologist, who comes in every month and sees quite a lot of the boys. I always see him and chat to him.”
Tuilagi also drew inspiration from fellow Tigers team-mate Mathew Tait, stating ‘he had exactly the same groin injury as I had and he has come back. That gives me a lot of hope. It’s an injury most pregnant women get when they give birth.’
Sunday will see the centre make his fourth successive start for the Tigers against Worcester at Welford Road.
Jones also stayed in touch with his 110kg centre, during Tuilagi’s prolonged spell on the sidelines, “he’ll text me probably once a month,” said Tuilagi. “It’s nice. He’s just checking up how I’m going, how I’m feeling. I’m feeling good. I’m feeling better and better after every game. I know I’ll get there.”
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