England forced to rethink attacking strategy after star's injury
SPOTLIGHT: England must find a new attacking “focal point” without injured talisman Manu Tuilagi, coach Eddie Jones said as he prepares his squad for the upcoming end-of-year internationals.
Sale Sharks centre Tuilagi faces up to six months on the sidelines after tearing his Achilles tendon in the latest injury setback for the Samoa-born midfielder.
“Manu was the focal point of our attack, and we have to find other ways of having focal points of our attack,” said Jones.
“We’ll miss Manu greatly. He’s been a terrific teammate, terrific team player, and we feel for him. But we move on, we’ll find other alternatives and other ways of playing.”
England take on the Barbarians in a non-cap international on October 25 before playing their delayed Six Nations fixture against Italy the following weekend.
The Nations Cup will then follow immediately, before the 2021 Six Nations, which should fall into its usual slot, meaning Tuilagi, 29, could miss the entire schedule.
Injuries have limited Tuilagi to 44 Tests, including one for the British and Irish Lions, in an international career dating back to 2011.
England could look to play a more expansive game in Tuilagi’s absence, with Jones admitting new breakdown law interpretations could play into his side’s hands.
“I think we’ve seen in two domestic leagues, particularly Super Rugby New Zealand and the French Top 14, the ruck speed increase considerably,” he said.
“But in other domestic competitions that hasn’t been the case so much. So we just have to wait and see what happens with refereeing at international level.”