LONDON - Manu Tuilagi’s England career is in serious jeopardy after a furious head coach Eddie Jones dismissed him from a training camp following a drunken night out.
Just one day after he returned to the England set-up, Tuilagi was seen out drinking with Sale Sharks wing Denny Solomona, 23, and both returned to the team hotel drunk in the early hours of yesterday morning.
It is understood Jones was livid with the pair and personally kicked them out of the three-day camp.
The head coach felt let down by the two backs, who joined pre-season training at the Lensbury club in Teddington, west London, on Saturday, and is now considering their international futures.
The next England squad is picked on September 22, before training in Oxford for the internationals against Argentina, Australia and Samoa in November. Tuilagi and Solomona are now unlikely to be involved.
The 37-man group had all gone out for a team meal on Sunday night following two days of gym work, meetings and conditioning exercises. All returned to base after dinner but Tuilagi and Solomona went back out to The Clock House, less than a mile from the hotel, drinking into the night.
Jones was fuming on Monday morning and sent the pair home, meaning they missed the only contact training session of the long weekend.
SQUAD UPDATE | Denny Solomona and Manu Tuilagi have been sent home today from England's training camp following team culture issues.
They had not broken a specific curfew, nor do the England squad have a written code of conduct that Tuilagi and Solomona contravened - they merely agree standards verbally. Jones, however, saw fit to give them their marching orders without consulting the players.
Leicester centre Tuilagi was meant to be a key man in the launch of England’s home kit for the new season on Monday afternoon but had to be replaced by Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care at the last minute.
The pair were picked in this training squad on Thursday and Jones had heralded Tuilagi’s latest comeback.
"I am impressed by his dedication," Jones said on Friday. "He can demolish the All Blacks, so he’s worth time, he’s worth effort and worth a lot of care."
But this latest misdemeanour has ruined Tuilagi’s chances of a recall once more.
It is the latest in a long line of problems, on and off the field, for the 26-year-old centre. In 2015 he was left out of England’s World Cup squad by Stuart Lancaster after being fined for assaulting two female police officers.
In 2013, during a visit to Downing Street following the successful Lions tour to Australia, he made a ‘bunny-ears’ gesture behind then Prime Minister David Cameron’s head when the squad posed for a photo outside No 10.
And in 2011, during the World Cup in New Zealand, Tuilagi was fined £3,000 after leaping from a moving ferry and swimming in Auckland harbour a day after England’s quarter-final defeat by France.
He has played only 17 minutes of international rugby since June 2014, appearing from the bench against Wales in the 2016 Six Nations during Jones’s first season in charge.
A succession of injuries, to his knee, groin and hamstring, have halted his development but successive coaches have tried to reinstate him to the England fold. But having crossed Jones in this way his international career looks all but over.
Care defended Jones’s decision. "It shows that no one is above the law," he said.
"That’s the way it has been since Eddie has taken over. There is a code of conduct. It’s about making the right decisions at the right time. He knows the strength in depth there is in the country at the moment and the number of players he can pick from, so you don’t want to make many mistakes because you never know what’s going to happen.
"We’re given a lot of licence by the coaches to make the right decisions. People know what is right and wrong and what to do at the right time and whatever happened on Sunday night wasn’t the right time."