Sun 10 Jan 2021 | 03:57

Tuilagi in race against time to be fit for Lions tour to South Africa

Tuilagi in race against time to be fit for Lions tour to South Africa
Sun 10 Jan 2021 | 03:57
Tuilagi in race against time to be fit for Lions tour to South Africa
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Manu Tuilagi’s race to be fit in time in for the British and Irish Lions tour could come down to the wire, with Sale Sharks teammate Josh Beaumont projecting his return date to be ‘April, May time’.

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Tuilagi hasn’t played since injuring himself for Sale Sale in a match against Northampton in September. The rampaging centre has managed just 43 caps for England and a single Test for the Lions against Australia on the 2013 tour, despite winning his first international cap a decade ago in 2011, due to a career that has been ravaged by injury.

“At the start of his injury we were both rehabbing together,” said Sale Sharks teammate Josh Beaumont. “He’s not a good person to rehab with. He’s literally done five calf raises the other day and he’s put on 4cm of muscle mass. It’s just depressing looking at him, going ‘that’s not fair’.

Tuilagi in race against time to be fit for Lions tour to South Africa

Tuilagi shocked English rugby when he left Leicester Tigers for sale in 2020 after failing to agree a reduction in his salary at Welford Road. He has since gone to make seven appearances for Sale, before injury struck again.

“He’s ticking along alright. He’s doing a lot of boxing with the conditioners. Their shoulders are hurting more than his at the moment. He seems in good spirits. Obviously, he wants to be out there playing. He’s had a lot of injuries and knows what the craic is. He’s been there and done it.

“Hopefully we’ll see him [soon]. I’m not sure when he’s going to be back. I think he said April, May time. The run-in until the end of the season, which would be a massive boost for us at the crucial point of the year,” said Beaumont.

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Provided the British and Irish Lions tour goes ahead in some capacity, an early April return could see Tuilagi with a shot of making a bid to be selected for the tour, but time is well and truly not on side of the 29-year-old.

Last week Sale Sharks interim coach Paul Deacon said of the star: “Manu is working really hard in the gym with his rehab and he is a good few months off yet from the injury he got. Hopefully, we will see him before the end of the season but we will have to see. If the way he is working is anything to go by then there is a good chance.

“He is doing a lot of boxing, but there is no way he can run yet with his achilles. He is grafting and doing all he needs to do. He is doing everything you would expect from an international of his calibre.”

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Tuilagi in race against time to be fit for Lions tour to South Africa | Rugby365