Tuilagi recently made his comeback from a 15-month groin problem and had fought his way into Eddie Jones’ England plans. After only three appearances for Leicester, however, he now faces ‘a couple of weeks’ out with a hamstring strain.
The 24-year-old had been earmarked to return against Wales on March 12, but Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell now seems destined to fill in at inside centre.
‘It’s obviously a shame for Manu,’ said England defence coach Paul Gustard. ‘Everybody wants to see Manu play rugby again, not least a defensive coach. As and when he gets back fit, we’ll welcome him with open arms.’
Farrell will start outside Bath fly-half George Ford, rekindling the partnership they formed at England age-group level and used sparingly at Test level under Stuart Lancaster.
‘Owen can play for England in both positions with aplomb,’ said Gustard. ‘He’s just a wonderful rugby player — his awareness, his skill set and his attitude in terms of wanting to go and get people defensively as a No 12.
‘Owen and George played with each other as kids. They are both very good. If we can get them both on the pitch and performing, then it could be their time.’
With Henry Slade also sidelined by long-term injury, uncapped Bath centre Ollie Devoto is expected to provide cover for the opening Test against Scotland at Murrayfield.
Despite failing to nail down a starting place at Bath, Devoto survived Jones’s first squad cull because of his versatility to cover multiple positions.
‘At the moment, I’m solely focused on surviving next week,’ said Devoto. ‘I’ve been given this opportunity and the only thing I can do now is play myself out of the team.’ – Daily Mail
Original source: Tuilagi blow for England