Manu Tuilagi looking to kick-start career in second season with Sale

England centre has been dogged by injuries but is fit again and champing at the bit

Manu Tuilagi played 80 minutes in Sale’s opening Premiership win over Bath. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty

Manu Tuilagi played 80 minutes in Sale’s opening Premiership win over Bath. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty

 

Manu Tuilagi is hoping to put his injury problems behind him and kick-start his Sale career.

The 30-year-old centre is into his second full season with the Sharks, and third campaign in all, but has not had the chance to hit full throttle yet.

The Covid pandemic, a serious Achilles injury in September 2020 that kept him out for eight months, and more recently a minor hamstring issue have all provided interruptions since Tuilagi signed for the club 14 months ago.

Sale got their 2021 Premiership season underway at the weekend with a 20-19 victory against Bath and asked if this represents the real start to his Sharks career, the England international said: “I feel good to be fair. I’d not played a full 80 for a while so it was good. The legs were good and the lungs were good.

“I just want to be able to play and I’m happy we got a full pre-season. It’s been tough but a lot of hard work has been put in and it’s nice to be able to go for it together, as a team, knowing we have put the work in.

“Me personally with the injuries that I’ve had, I just take it day by day and be thankful I am able to do what I can. It’s a bonus for me to do what I love and not many people get to do that. I am really enjoying playing rugby.

“But I feel good, touch wood, I’ve put in the hard work.”

Some of that hard work has involved shedding some weight. Tuilagi, together with some other members of the Sale side, were forced to ask themselves some “tough” questions following their play-off semi-final defeat to Exeter last season.

“It was a disappointing loss and afterwards I was asked the question do you think you’re fit enough to play that game. It was a tough question to answer but it was probably true,” he said.

“(It was suggested) Maybe we lose four or five kilos and that will allow us to be involved a lot more, in both defence and attack.

“We set out to do that straight after the season and we are nearly there. We’re not there yet, but nearly. It’s been hard work.”

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