England pondering Tuilagi recall

Centre could win a place on the bench as England chase Six Nations title in Rome

Stuart Lancaster: “If we were to go down the route of using him on the bench he’d certainly have a big impact.”

Stuart Lancaster: “If we were to go down the route of using him on the bench he’d certainly have a big impact.”


England are deliberating whether to recall Manu Tuilagi to the bench to reinforce their final assault on the Six Nations title.

Tuilagi is available having recovered from the torn pectoral muscle that has sidelined him for six months, although he has only one club appearance for Leicester in the bank since his return.

The challenge facing England at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday is to overwhelm Italy and peg back Ireland’s imposing points difference in case the title is decided on those grounds.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster is reluctant to change the starting XV that excelled in defeating Wales 29-18 on Sunday, but views Tuilagi as a possible replacement.

Mindful of the explosive impact Tuilagi could have on a match demanding an avalanche of tries, Lancaster may decide he needs the wrecking-ball British and Irish Lion at his disposal.

“If we were to go down the route of using him on the bench he’d certainly have a big impact,” said Lancaster, who would drop Alex Goode from the replacements if he opts for Tuilagi’s firepower.

“We didn’t feel that it was right to involve Manu against Wales because of his lack of training time with us. We’d be more comfortable bringing him in for this weekend.

“I haven’t spoken to any of the players yet and there’s someone who would lose their spot on the bench if that’s the route we go down.

“One option is for him to cover wing and we have both Jack Nowell and Jonny May who can cover 15.”

England are due to trim their squad to a matchday 23 on Tuesday night, at which point the final decision on Tuilagi will be known. The team is announced on Thursday.

Should Ireland defeat France in Paris, they will be all but assured of the title on the strength of their points difference of plus 49 unless England manage a landslide victory in Rome.

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