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Tuilagi is out of England's autumn series with injury

By Andrew Baldock

Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi has been hit by another injury blow which looks certain to sideline him from England's autumn Tests.

Leicester said that Tuilagi will have surgery and faces an estimated 12 weeks' recovery time after suffering a knee strain during Tigers' Aviva Premiership opener against Bath five days ago.

The Bath match was his first Premiership appearance for eight months after recovering from knee trouble.

England kick off their autumn series against Argentina on November 11, with 26-year-old Tuilagi having not started a Test since 2014 due to repeated injury setbacks.

He was part of an England training camp under head coach Eddie Jones last month but, along with Sale Sharks wing Denny Solomona, Tuilagi was sent home early following a late-night drinking episode.

His hopes of an early England return are now over - England also face the Wallabies and Samoa - unless he can make a quicker than expected recovery.

Leicester said that Tuilagi's latest injury was a strained meniscus in his left knee.

"This is not the knee that Manu injured last season, and this is not a major injury in the context of what kept him out for the first half of this year," Leicester head coach Matt O'Connor said.

"Manu has worked really hard with the medical and conditioning teams to come back from long-term injury and was starting to find his feet again on the pitch, but he's just been unlucky."

At his best, Tuilagi is among the most destructive midfield players in world rugby, but this latest blow comes at a time when he had looked sharp during pre-season and scored a try as Leicester were beaten 27-23 by Bath.

He now faces more time on the sidelines, starting with Tigers' trip to Northampton tomorrow, while any potential England comeback is now likely to be on hold until the RBS Six Nations Championship, which starts in February.

Belfast Telegraph

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