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'We'd never risk it': The Sale, Eddie Jones thinking around Manu

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Sale boss Alex Sanderson has explained that their over-cautious management of the fitness of Manu Tuilagi was the reason why he was ruled out of last weekend’s comprehensive Gallagher Premiership win over London Irish. The injury-prone 31-year-old had been in flying form this season, starting his club’s first four matches and also coming through a three-day England training camp.


However, Tuilagi shipped a knock in the October 8 win at his old club Leicester and sat out Sale’s fifth match of their campaign as a precaution ahead of this Sunday’s hosting of Harlequins in Manchester ahead of the start of the latest England camp the following day in Jersey for the upcoming Autumn Nations Series.

Tuilagi hasn’t played for England in eleven months due to respective hamstring and knee injuries, but Sale and the RFU have combined their resources to try and do their best for Tuilagi who has played a total of eleven club matches since originally getting injured when scoring for his country against the Springboks last November.

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The aim is not only to ensure he can make a return this November for England. Instead, the end game is that he can go on to be fit for selection for the 2023 World Cup in France which starts next September.

“He caught a knee from Jimmy Gopperth, an accidental knee in the back last week, and it was a little bit niggly,” explained Sanderson. “With Manu and with a short turnaround, if he is carrying (anything) and can’t do the full amount of training we wanted to do to keep him robust, we’d never risk it because we know of his history. That was the reason why he wasn’t involved (against Irish).


“Let’s bring the RFU into this and Eddie (Jones), who I met with on Friday. There is a very strong relationship there with understanding what works best for Manu so they have come to the table as well and the proof will be in the pudding. In fact, the proof will be when he plays well for a World Cup.

“That has always been our aim, to get him to that World Cup, performing right at the best of his ability and hopefully better than he has ever played. That will be the proof. This [the upcoming November series] is just another stepping stone on that journey to the World Cup.”


Ahead of this weekend’s fixture versus Harlequins, the Sale training update on Tuilagi was: “Super sharp, super fresh, really verbal out there, buzzing around. It was a minor back strain. He probably could have played if it was a final but you know our take on managing Manu, so we have got him back this weekend if selected.”


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Poorfour 3 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

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