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Sale Sharks boss fears Manu Tuilagi could be one injury away from retirement

Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson is concerned that Manu Tuilagi’s career could be over if he suffers another serious injury.

Tuilagi, who made his international debut for England back in 2011, has won just 43 caps for his country despite being virtually guaranteed to start when fit for the last 10 years, due to numerous injury struggles.

The 30-year-old joined Sale Sharks back in 2020, but his game time for the club has been seriously limited since then due to continued injury problems, while he hasn’t featured for England at all this year.

Sanderson was speaking to The Telegraph about Tuilagi’s injury troubles and revealed that the club will limit his game time even when he is fit in an effort to avoid further injuries.

Sale Sharks boss Alex Sanderson on Manu Tuilagi.

“For seven or eight years, he’s only ever played 12 games in a season. I think he knows that if he gets another serious injury, that might be it. That might be his career. If you fail to learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it,” Sanderson said.

“Even though he’s really fresh now and good to go, I don’t want to be another coach in a long line of coaches who pushes him too hard so he gets re-injured at some point in the season.

“You’ve got to look at his past history and when he wants those games to occur, not just to keep playing him because he feels fresh. That’s what has broken him every other time.

“Of course I want to play him because he’s great for the team and is in good form, but this is more about him as an individual, getting him through the season and getting him fit for England, because that’s the dream for us both – and, I’m sure, Eddie [Jones].”

The talented centre could be fit for England’s November tests.

Tuilagi last played for England in March 2020 before the outbreak of the pandemic, and has played very little rugby for club or country since then.

The Samoan-born England international played for Sale just three times last season, although he has played in two of the Sharks’ three Premiership fixtures this season.

Tuilagi rarely disappoints when he takes to the field, and played a crucial role for England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but he has been unable to play consistently without picking up an injury.

Eddie Jones will be hoping that Tuilagi can remain fit for England’s tests next month, when they take on Tonga, Australia and reigning world champions South Africa.

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