Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi has been dogged by injury for well over a year and has only earned one appearance for England since Eddie Jones took over from Stuart Lancaster.
It looks as though the place of a physical centre has been filled in Jones’ squad by Australian-born Worcester centre Ben Te’o.
The 25-year-old is a hugely influential presence for Leicester and England, his aura alone can lift his teammates, despite his young age he is the complete professional, when fit.
England seem to have settled on the double playmaker option in midfield with George Ford and Owen Farrell filling the 10-12 axis. Ben Te’o has had an impact when involved as a physical player, but it seems with the return of Billy and Mako Vunipola this physical battering ram in the backs is not as essential.
If Tuilagi is ever to pull on the white of England again then he will have stiff competition to face off with the aforementioned Te’o, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Joe Marchant and Luther Burrell all also vying for a spot in England’s squad.
The Leicester centre offers something completely different to these others, his sheer power and ability to offload whilst getting over the gain line could allow his club and England to open up opposition defences with ease and with the finishing ability of Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson, Jack Nowell and Elliot Daly outside could make England lethal.
The way England tore open Scotland last weekend was devastating and it is hard to argue Tuilagi’s case for inclusion after a performance like that.
The powerhouse, however, would add something to the England team what you sacrifice in dropping a playmaking option you more than make up for in power and pace that Tuilagi would bring.
This earliest we will see Tuilagi is the start of next season after sustaining an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury in action for Leicester in January.
This is a good thing for the player though with the chance to get a full pre-season will hopefully stop the string of reoccurring injuries he has suffered recently.
The centre could become a really important part of what is turning into a very dangerous backline with the likes of Telusa Veainu, Peter Betham and JP Pietersen able to cause havoc. Then you have the playmakers such as Matt Toomua and the inbound George Ford who are masters at finding space for the faster backs in the wide channels.
Tuilagi’s return from injury is one to eagerly anticipate for Leicester and England fans alike.
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