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Tuilagi back in frame for England after snooker helped his recuperation

The 27-year-old player snooker in a local league.

Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi watched the World Championship at The Crucible (Martin Rickett/PA)
Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi watched the World Championship at The Crucible (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manu Tuilagi has revealed that he turned to snooker in search of distraction during the long hours of rehabilitation that have placed him on the verge of an England comeback.

This autumn Tuilagi is set to make his first international appearance for two years and potentially his first start in four years after being included in Eddie Jones’ training squad for a three-day camp in Bristol.

It is hoped that three solid performances for Leicester so far this season mark the end of a wretched four years marred by a career-threatening groin problem and successive knee surgeries, amongst a series of other injuries.

To lighten the recovery process, Tuilagi would player snooker in a local league and was improving rapidly until the birth of his daughter Leilani 21 weeks ago forced a change of priority.

“It was quite nice and relaxing and I wasn’t too bad,” said the 27-year-old of Samoan descent.

“A few of the boys at Leicester play. My highest break was in practice was 55 and in a game 40. We’ve just finished our summer league.

“I went to the Crucible with (England and Leicester prop) Ellis Genge. It was awesome. It was John Higgins against Mark Williams in the final and Williams won.

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“We were disappointed Ronnie O’Sullivan wasn’t there because he got knocked out a couple of days before so we might have to go again.

“I’ve always liked pool, but then I saw an interview with Ronnie and they asked him what the difference is between pool and snooker.

“He said it’s like playing the Open in golf and playing crazy golf. He said ‘that’s as much respect as I give to pool’, which is true.

“You have to dress up for snooker, which is good. It’s a very serious game. It’s very quiet – a bit too quiet. There aren’t snooker tables in Samoa!

“I’ve not been able to play much since I had my daughter. My missus has been cancelling it!”

Manu Tuilagi is set for an England comeback (David Davies/PA)

Tuilagi visited a witch-doctor in Samoa to assist in his recovery and believes the evil spirit that was contributing to his misfortune is now gone, while he has also sough help from consultant sport psychologist Matt Thombs.

He continues at outside centre in Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Worcester armed with a new perspective on the sport.

“I feel more confident game by game. I’m not sure when I’ll be back to my best, but I’m feeling good. I know I’ll get there,” he said.

“I’m enjoying being able to do what I do and what I am here to do. Sometimes when you are fit and playing you take it all for granted.

“If you play a lot of games, like the boys who go to England do, sometimes you take it for granted and go through the motions. Now I’m getting back playing, I’d never do that.”

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From Belfast Telegraph