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Manu Tuilagi not ready for England - Richard Cockerill

Published 19/02/2016

Manu Tuilagi carries the ball during Leicester's loss to Harlequins
Manu Tuilagi carries the ball during Leicester's loss to Harlequins

England have been warned that Manu Tuilagi is not ready to make his international return after the Leicester centre made a successful comeback in Friday's 25-19 Aviva Premiership defeat at Harlequins.

Tuilagi has sat out the last three matches with a hamstring strain, just two games after finally overcoming a groin problem that had kept him in the treatment room for 15 months.

The 24-year-old's power helped set up Leicester's only try with England head coach Eddie Jones watching from the stands.

Jones plans to use Tuilagi in the RBS 6 Nations clash with Wales on March 12, but Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill views that target as ambitious.

"Manu got through the game and did some good things and made some errors as well, but everybody makes errors," Cockerill said.

"Let's hope Manu can stay on the field and we can keep him playing. Manu played his first game here for a few weeks, so we'll see where that leads to.

"He's not ready to play at Test level yet. He's played one game and still isn't quite sharp, as you saw. He did some things but needs to be managed properly.

"Me and Eddie can have that discussion. If he's fit, he can play. If he's not then he won't. We'll be sensible about it."

Harlequins leapfrogged Leicester into third place in the Premiership table with a victory founded on the kicking of fly-half Ben Botica, who finished with 20 points.

"That was a great win for the team and I thought that Ben Botica really fronted up in terms of his play. That is the mark of a proper sportsman," director of rugby Conor O'Shea said.

"You always have parts of a season where you lose games and you get into a difficult time and you have a performance like we had last week against Gloucester, but I thought that the reaction of the boys was magnificent.

"I was getting sick of people saying that we are missing players, we've got plenty good enough players to win matches and we should have beaten Newcastle, but we didn't. We should have beaten Northampton, but we didn't."

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