LONDON – Manu Tuilagi has ruled himself out of England’s summer tour to South Africa.
The Leicester centre has told coach Eddie Jones that he would like to stay at home and focus on his recovery from a series of injuries.
England will announce their latest squad on Thursday – but Tuilagi is targeting a return in the November internationals after a two-year exile.
Jonathan Joseph has also been ruled out of the tour, leaving Henry Trinder, Ben Te’o, Elliot Daly, Henry Slade and Alex Lozowski as the leading candidates at centre.
“I couldn’t expect to be part of the summer tour to South Africa,” said Tuilagi. “I was going well until I did my pec, and that meant another four or five weeks out.
“The World Cup is always in the back of your mind, for any player, you want to play well for your club and then your country.
“But the emphasis for me is focusing on getting fit and staying fit, and I just want to enjoy playing rugby. If I do that, the rest should look after itself.
“I don’t think I am up there yet or good enough to be in that team, so I’ll get ready for next season. That pre-season will be a really important one.”
Meanwhile, wing George North is set to be the only Lions star selected for Wales’ summer tour of the USA and Argentina.
In preparation for next year’s World Cup, coach Warren Gatland is set to leave behind 10 of his senior players for the series.