Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi is set for a further spell on the sidelines after Tigers coach Richard Cockerill ruled the England international out of Leicester’s upcoming trip to Newcastle this weekend.
The Tigers will play the Falcons at Kingston Park on Sunday but they will be without Tuilagi for the second straight week as the barnstorming centre remains sidelined with a groin injury.
“We’ll look after Manu for the next couple of weeks,”
Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.
“He is about 80 per cent fit and if we really wanted him for Sunday we could push him.
“But the right thing to do is to manage it and make sure that once he gets over the problem it is done for good.
“It is frustrating because Manu wants to play, but ultimately we have to be patient and get it right.”
Tuilagi started in Leicester’s opening win of the season against Gloucester at Kingsholm, a come from behind win in which Tuilagi scored a try and partnered first time centre Peter Betham in the Tigers midfield.
With Betham holding onto his spot at outside centre after stints at both fullback and wing last year, Owen Williams and Matt Smith will most likely compete for Leicester’s starting inside centre job with Smith starting last weekend’s loss to Wasps, before being replaced by Williams after 63 minutes.
The loss of Tuilagi is substantial for the Tigers, especially considering the 25-year-old has battled persistent groin injuries in the past, but for Cockerill, he doesn’t believe the loss of Tuilagi is a legitimate excuse.
“You are always going to miss a player like Manu, but we have a strong squad and regardless of who is out on the field we should be competing with any side.
“If we had played better against Wasps we would have given ourselves an opportunity to win the game. But we didn’t.”
Mike Fitzgerald (hand), Mike Williams (arm) and Owen Williams (elbow) all returned from injury against Wasps last weekend and Cockerill reported that all three had come through their first outings of the season with no issue.