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Manu Tuilagi: Rugby Sales Manager Alex Sanderson Says He Will Be Focus Of British And Irish Lions Tour |  Rugby news


Sale Sharks’ Manu Tuilagi has not played since September due to an injury to Achilles, but rugby manager Alex Sanderson has backed the player to prove his fitness; Sanderson also revealed that Tuilagi is set to return in May, which could put him in the running for a place for the Lions.

Last updated: 04/05/21 19:19 pm

Manu Tuilagi is expected to return from his injury later this month and has been supported to be part of the British and Irish Lions squad.

Manu Tuilagi remains on track to return to Sale Sharks this month and rugby manager Alex Sanderson has said he will pick the center for the British and Irish Lions’ upcoming tour of South Africa.

Lions coach Warren Gatland is expected to name his 36-man squad on Thursday and his captain and England international Tuilagi could be included although he has been out since September with an Achilles injury.

“Yeah I would take it if I chose it,” Sanderson said ahead of Friday’s Gallagher Premiership game with Leicester.

“Manu (Tuilagi) understands more than anyone how to recover from an injury because he has had more than most.

“I think he wants to come back and be brilliant again, I do and if I could help someone come back and be their best, I would support him.”

Manu Tuilagi: Rugby Sales Manager Alex Sanderson Says He Will Be Focus Of British And Irish Lions Tour |  Rugby news

Warren Gatland is set to name his 36 Lions squad on Thursday

Sanderson has revealed that Tuilagi may be available for the Heineken Champions Cup on May 22 if La Rochelle hadn’t eliminated Sale in the quarter-finals.

The Samoan-born back hasn’t been ruled out from his match with Bath next weekend either, but a more realistic goal is the visit of Premiership leaders Bristol on May 28.

An appearance against the Bears would potentially give the 29-year-old three regular season games to prove his fitness before the Lions leave for South Africa.

Sale, third, is also hoping to make the play-offs that could give the England international two more matches.

Manu Tuilagi: Rugby Sales Manager Alex Sanderson Says He Will Be Focus Of British And Irish Lions Tour |  Rugby news

Tuilagi has suffered a series of injuries in recent years

Upon Tuilagi’s return, Sanderson added: “Everything is going well and hitting all his markers, sometime around the European Cup final.

“It’s a shame we don’t play in it because he could make his (second) debut in this area. Some time or so, so two to three weeks.

“What we are guarding against is not his Achilles, his Achilles is fine. It’s making sure he doesn’t get hurt again.”

Tuilagi, who joined the Lions team in Australia in 2013, has suffered from hamstring, groin and knee problems in the past and Sanderson still believes it won’t take long for him to return to the top speed.

Manu Tuilagi: Rugby Sales Manager Alex Sanderson Says He Will Be Focus Of British And Irish Lions Tour |  Rugby news

Tuilagi in action for the Lions on the 2013 tour

The Sharks rugby manager is reluctant to put the former Leicester Tigers player back into the mix too soon, but he has been involved in management meetings over the team’s offensive structure over his return.

“It’s our job to get him in shape before we play, which is why I’m very hesitant to say when he’ll come back because I don’t want to throw him in there 80%, he’ll get injured again.” Sanderson said of Tuilagi, who recently signed a new two-year deal at Sale.

“I can only speak for myself, but it’s not a leap of faith for us to sign it again, it’s a calculated and good risk.

“I have no doubt that he will go back to playing his best rugby. He is very happy here, very motivated and a very good player. You put those three things together and you end up getting back in shape.

“I think he’ll find the form whether or not Warren (Gatland) wants to take Tuilagi with the Lions or not is his choice.”

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