Tuilagi given deadline to prove fitness
January 26, 2013
Manu Tuilagi has until Tuesday to prove his fitness to face Scotland © PA Photos
Manu Tuilagi will not be given any extra time to prove his fitness for England's opening Six Nations clash against Scotland, despite his importance to Stuart Lancaster's side.
Tuilagi is England's most potent attacking weapon and he led the destruction of New Zealand last month, scoring one try and playing a key role in the creation of two others. But the Leicester centre is battling to overcome an ankle injury in time to feature for England in next Saturday's Calcutta Cup showdown.
Tuilagi only has until Tuesday at the latest to prove his fitness or he will not play against Scotland, with either Jonathan Joseph or Billy Twelvetrees likely to take his place in midfield.
Asked whether Tuilagi would be given until late in the week, Lancaster said: "No. You have to trust the players you have got and you have to be fair to the player.
"If he's not right to play an international game you don't pick him. It's the same for everyone. No (he will not get special treatment). You have to be fair to your team. We will see where he is Monday or Tuesday. Manu has gone back to Leicester to get some treatment.
"They have what is called an AlterG machine. The machine supports you in a harness and allows you to run without putting your body-weight through your legs. There are different options - you could put Brad (Barritt) at 12 and JJ at 13 or put Billy at 12 and Brad at 13."
Lancaster has decided which option he prefers but there were no clues on show at Headingley yesterday, when England trained in front of 6,000 people. Both Twelvetrees and Joseph spent time running alongside Barritt, while Lancaster has other selection posers to solve - particularly at hooker and full-back.
Ben Foden and Alex Goode, who played full-back for England during the autumn, have both been released to play for their clubs in the LV= Cup this weekend. Dylan Hartley is back from injury and putting pressure on Tom Youngs, who enjoyed a remarkable introduction to Test rugby in the QBE internationals, while the scrum-half battle is a nip-and-tuck affair between Danny Care and Ben Youngs.
"On the first day back in camp you could see the excitement of every player who is vying to get the shirt," Care said. "No-one is nailed on for a start. It is great for English rugby that there is so much strength in depth.
"It is a good battle at nine. I am happy with how I have played but there is no indication yet of who will play. It keeps everyone on their toes."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.