Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Tuilagi aims to force way back in

Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi will return to full training with England on Tuesday hoping that he can persuade Stuart Lancaster that he is the answer to unlocking a fierce Welsh back line that will provide the interim head coach with literally the biggest test of his reign so far.

Lancaster has so far enjoyed two narrow wins of his temporary stewardship and he will go a long way to persuading the RFU that he deserves the position on a permanent basis with a victory over Wales in the RBS 6 Nations on Saturday.

Welsh wings George North and Alex Cuthbert stand at 6ft 4in and 6ft 6in respectively and they will be out to cause England mayhem, but Lancaster could add some beef to his back line by recalling Tuilagi. He said: "Clearly players with calibre such as Manu will no doubt be contenders for the match day 22."

Lancaster added: "He, and the guys who played on Sunday, didn't train on Monday but they will on Tuesday and then we will decide from there.

"I was pleased he got another 80 minutes this week and I felt he looked sharper this week than he did against Exeter the previous week, but that said, he has played only a few games since the World Cup and hamstring injuries dictate that you can't do a lot of sprint work."

Tuilagi endured a mixed World Cup characterised by excellent performances on the pitch, but blighted by ill discipline off it.

Two injuries have meant the 20-year-old has not played for England since he was fined for jumping off a ferry in Auckland after the Red Rose exited the competition with a drab defeat to France, but he impressed during a run out for Leicester against Saracens on Sunday.

The Welsh have only won once at Twickenham since 1988 but they go in to this weekend's clash as odds-on favourites having built on their excellent form at the World Cup by beating Scotland and Ireland in their opening two games of the Six Nations.

Lancaster will also have to decide whether to recall fit-again duo Courtney Lawes and Toby Flood, while Ben Youngs' place at scrum-half is under threat from Lee Dickson.

Ben Morgan could also make his first England start in place of Dickson's team-mate Phil Dowson at number eight.

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