LONDON – Manu Tuilagi has one last training session to prove his fitness for England’s final autumn Test against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.
Tuilagi was expected to be ruled out by the groin strain that has prevented him from playing this month, only to be retained in a 26-man squad that is making final preparations to face the Wallabies.
Eddie Jones names his team on Thursday, and will assess Tuilagi’s availability after Wednesday’s make-or-break session.
The England coach stated earlier this week that the Leicester centre was “very doubtful”, but in a surprise twist to his long-running fitness saga, he could participate against Australia.
“We need to find out where he’s at and whether he’s 100 percent,” said defence coach John Mitchell.
“We expect him to train this afternoon, but like all players, we intend to have restricted training activities based on their individual needs.”
Tuilagi was primed to make his first England appearance for two years in the autumn opener against South Africa, only to be withdrawn from the bench when his groin tightened up in training.
Jones has been cautious over his fitness ever since, mindful of the long run of groin, knee, hamstring and pectoral injuries that have blighted his career.
Mitchell, who was England forwards coach from 1997 to 2000, is looking forward to the climax to the autumn series, which has seen victories over the Springboks and Japan and a narrow loss to the All Blacks
“They will certainly have an attacking mindset, and they’ll be very settled on the basis that it’s the end of their season,” he said.
“They’ve played a style of rugby that is extremely entertaining and involves everyone, but at times, it has not bought them reward. We need to be mindful that they enjoy building pressure with the ball.
“Australia always test you with running threats, they possess good aerial players as well, and as you can see in the autumn that’s been a big area of contest in the games.”AFP