Tom Youngs welcomes back 'world-class' Manu Tuilagi
PA Sport
January 11, 2016
© (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Tom Youngs says it is "fantastic" to see his fellow Leicester star and England international Manu Tuilagi back in action.

The powerful Tigers centre, who has won 25 caps, ended 15 months of injury misery by making a second-half return off the bench during Leicester's thrilling 30-27 Aviva Premiership victory over east midlands rivals Northampton. While Leicester rugby director Richard Cockerill believes it is unrealistic for Tuilagi to be part of England's early games in the RBS 6 Nations Championship this season - they kick off their campaign against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 6 - he is at least back on the pitch following a serious groin problem.

New England head coach Eddie Jones watched from the stands at Welford Road as Tuilagi made a couple of characteristic all-action contributions in attack and defence. And it now remains to be seen whether the 24-year-old, who has not played for England since June 2014, will be named in Jones' first elite player squad next Wednesday.

"It is great to see a guy who has gone through some hard times in the last 15 months trying to get back on the pitch after a very serious injury," Leicester and England hooker Youngs said. "He is enjoying himself in training and it is fantastic having him back the last few weeks.

"He went through a bad period, but he then realised it was getting better and he was not getting knocked back, which is pretty disheartening when you think there is light at the end of the tunnel and you go back to the beginning again.

"He was straight into it (against Northampton) and that was the best thing for him. When you are injured you can do all the training in the world, but he was nervous before the game as he was putting pressure on himself - 'can I still do it' - and he will be a lot better for getting through that 25 minutes.

"I did not have to put my arm around him. He is an experienced guy and he knows we are all behind him. I cannot say whether he will be in the England squad. He has got through today (Saturday) and we will see how he gets through next week.He is a world-class player, but when someone has been out for a long time we forget how good they are until they come back."

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