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Cohen wouldn't pick Tuilagi again

Published 20/05/2015

Ben Cohen thinks Manu Tuilagi, pictured, should not play for England again
Ben Cohen thinks Manu Tuilagi, pictured, should not play for England again

Former England World Cup-winning wing Ben Cohen believes Manu Tuilagi should never wear the Red Rose again.

Tuilagi, 24, was last week banned from representing England until January 2016 by head coach Stuart Lancaster after the Leicester centre admitted assaulting two female police officers.

If it was up to Cohen, who scored two tries during England's glorious 2003 campaign, Tuilagi would be barred from selection for good unless there is a shift in his demeanour.

"I personally wouldn't pick him to play for England again," he told Phil Williams on BBC Radio 5 live.

"I think that's inexcusable what he's done. He has to make amends big time to be able to put on that white jersey again. Maybe if he cares enough then great. Maybe he doesn't - maybe he just wants to go over and play in France. Maybe I sound very harsh - but it's inexcusable what he's done."

Tuilagi pleaded guilty to assaulting two female police officers when he appeared before magistrates in Leicester on May 14, relating to an incident that took place on April 26.

The Leicester player pleaded guilty to one count of assault by beating, one count of criminal damage and two counts of assaulting a police officer.

Lancaster was quick to expel Tuilagi from his plans to mastermind a World Cup triumph on home soil this autumn, despite him being one of England's star players.

Away from Tuilagi, one of the major talking points ahead of Lancaster naming his 50-man World Cup training squad on Wednesday has been whether players based overseas such as Steffon Armitage and Nick Abendanon should be included.

In a move designed to keep English talent playing in the Aviva Premiership such players are ordinarily ruled out of selection, but Lancaster retains the option to call them up in exceptional circumstances.

Armitage's stellar form for Toulon as they have swept to an unprecedented third European triumph in a row has created a clamour for his inclusion, while former Bath full-back Abendanon has also caught the eye playing for Clermont in the French Top 14 and in Europe.

Cohen believes they should be able to play a part, adding: "It's a rule that I think they use when they need to. If it was Jonny Wilkinson, maybe it would be okay to have a rule that we could use overseas players - which they did do. You can't handicap your side. He (Armitage) is playing some amazing rugby with an amazing team. I think he should be playing for his country."

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