Wednesday 23 February 2022, World Sports. Manu Tuilagi has returned from injury “in immense” physical shape and set to start for England’s must-win match against Wales at Twickenham this Saturday (5:45am Sunday on Digicel TV and PlayGo App).
The 30 year old powerhouse midfielder from Fatausi Fogapoa Savaii has been named in Eddie Jones’ 25-man squad ahead of centre Joe Marchant for England’s third outing of the Six Nations.
England’s midfield struggled in the absence of Tuilagi in a 20-17 opening-round defeat in Scotland. After losing that opening game, England annihilated Italy but must beat Wales to keep their hopes of a title alive.
Many will feel more confident of success with Tuilagi on the paddock, including former England scrum-half Danny Care.
“I was always a lot more confident of having a successful game on the pitch when I knew Manu was beside me and I’m sure a lot of the boys will feel the same,” he said.
“I think England have only had two properly unique superstars. I think Jason Robinson was one and Manu is the second. He possesses something that no one else does.”
But the humble Savaii-born centre has played down the media hype around his return for England.
“I’ve got a small part to play in the team,” he said.
“There are a lot of things going on in the media but we have to stay focused on what we’re doing in here”.
“It’s a massive game against Wales,” said Tuilagi. “For us it’s a must-win game, and that’s what I’ll stay focused on.”
The 46 test veteran missed out England’s first two matches, recovering from a hamstring injury he sustained in November last year.
But after his comeback for Sale earlier this month, England are confident he is fit to face Wales.
England’s assistant coach Anthony Seibold told BBC’s Radio 5 Live Tuilagi has returned from injury “in immense” physical shape.
“He’s had a really good build-up; I watched him play against Quins a few weeks ago and Sale have done a fantastic job to progress his rehab,” said Seibold.
“He’s had 80 minutes of rugby and a full week in camp. His body is in good condition and his body weight to power output is immense at the moment.”
A former State of Origin Assistant Coach for Queensland, Seibold said Tuilagi’s size and explosive power will give England additional options in attack and defence.
“The obvious attribute is that physical presence on both sides of the ball,” he said.
“He creates momentum when he carries the ball in attack and defensively he is so good with his first contact.
“The only other thing to add to that is his decision-making as an edge defender is really good, he’s got great game-awareness, so he adds so much to our group and he has so much experience.”
England rugby fans – and indeed history – would agree.
According to statistician Russ Petty, England’s last home defeat with Tuilagi in the matchday squad was in November 2012.
Tuilagi joins a band of England reinforcements for the Wales game, with flanker Courtney Lawes available for selection after concussion and experienced lock Joe Launchbury also back in contention after a serious knee injury.
Like Wales, England have won one and lost one in this year’s Championship and need another victory to keep their title hopes alive.
For Samoa – the 2022 Six Nations Rugby Championship is aired live on Digicel TV and the PlayGo app. Contact the Digicel Team and get free installation before the weekend’s matches.