Tuilagi could return for some Six Nations duty
January 14, 2014
Tuilagi has not featured in a Test since the British & Irish Lions tour © Getty Images
Manu Tuilagi has given Stuart Lancaster a boost ahead of the Six Nations after setting himself an injury return date of 'mid-February' - which could make him available for England's final two matches.
Tuilagi has spent much of the season on the treatment table after suffering a chest injury which ruled him out of England's autumn internationals against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand. The news that he required surgery delayed his comeback further and it was reported that he looked set to miss the entire competition.
But the Leicester centre is more optimistic about his rehabilitation, and has set himself a return target of mid-February for the Tigers, which may allow him to play for England in the potential title-deciding clash with Wales on March 9 and the Six Nations finale in Italy a week later. It could also see him in line feature for Leicester against Gloucester on February 16 and away at London Irish on February 23.
Northampton's Luther Burrell is expected to fill the void at 13 in Tuilagi's absence but the experience and threat of Tuilagi, especially for the Wales game, would be a huge boost for Lancaster, especially as England missed the 22-year-old's presence in the midfield during the autumn.
"My body isn't too bad," Tuilagi said.
"I feel fresh, I'm training, doing rehab, physio and massage every day, so hopefully I can be back playing in mid-February. I just want to play, I just want to get back on the pitch. Hopefully I've not forgotten how to play rugby!
"I'm not naming a game when I will play again, I want to take my time, get my injury right and get my body right, then I'll worry about playing. But I'm aiming to be back in mid-February."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd