Sale are keen to meet with the England rugby management after the Six Nations to ensure injury-prone Manu Tuilagi spends more time on the field than the treatment table.
England had hoped that last week’s match against Wales would mark Tuilagi’s return to Test action following three months out with a hamstring problem. However, just hours after being named in the starting XV for the match, the powerhouse centre was withdrawn with a “low-grade” hamstring injury.
England coach Eddie Jones is renowned for his intense training sessions, which the veteran Australian boss insists are necessary to prepare players for the demands of international rugby.
Jones left Tuilagi out of a training squad announced on Wednesday ahead of England’s fourth-round match against Ireland at Twickenham on 12 March.
Alex Sanderson, in charge of the 30-year-old Tuilagi at Premiership club Sale, still thinks the midfield dynamo could feature in England’s Six Nations finale away to France a week later.
But Sanderson, in the buildup to the Wales match, said: “It was probably just a little bit too far, a little bit too soon. We’ve spoken to Eddie and liaised with England’s physios and S&C [strength and conditioning] staff.
“We’re all on the same page and we need to catch up post-Six Nations to understand how we can potentially manage it better.”
Tuilagi has a physical presence few midfielders can match and is also deceptively skilful but, although he boasts 46 England caps, he has missed 80 Tests since his debut.
Sale director of rugby Sanderson said England should take heart from Tuilagi’s form and base-level fitness a year before 2023 World Cup in France.
“The positives are that he’ll be back in a week or two, he’s in great form, he’s positive himself,” said Sanderson. “He’s probably in the shape of his life.
“When you reframe it like that, you start to look forward until the next year and a half until the World Cup as opposed to looking back.”
Sanderson, asked if Tuilagi would be better off enjoying a run of games with Sale rather than being in the England camp, replied: “In terms of his ability to improve the length of his career, yes.
“And that’s only because the intensity of training and physicality of games are less in the Premiership than for internationals … I’m not saying that we manage him better, we just load him less.”
England beat Wales 23-19 in Tuilagi’s absence but are third on the Six Nations table behind Grand Slam-chasing France and Ireland.
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