Eddie Jones has hatched a plan to get Manu Tuilagi to next year’s Rugby World Cup fit and firing.
Tuilagi, 31, has won only six caps since the 2019 World Cup final due to injury and this season broke down twice on England duty.
The second time came after Tuilagi had been declared “better than ever” by Sale boss Alex Sanderson.
Sanderson later said that one of the England training sessions Tuilagi took part in, which left him with a low-grade hamstring strain, was of a higher load than he was used to with Sharks.
England’s failure to score tries in Tuilagi’s absence has cost them dear. In two Six Nations campaign without him they have lost six of their 10 games.
Jones does not need telling how important the 16-stone centre is to his team’s chances of going one better than they did in Japan at the last World Cup.
Mike Egerton/PA Wire)
“If you haven’t got the power to win collisions you’ve got to find another way to win collisions,” said the Australian.
“And I can tell you that’s bloody hard because the game is about collisions at the moment.”
He remains adamant that what works in club rugby is inadequate for the Test arena as “you have got to equip a player to handle the most difficult parts of the game”.
Adam Davy/PA Wire)
But he revealed: “There is increasingly a desire between the RFU, the English staff, and the Sale staff to work together in a more collaborative manner.
“I’m not saying it hasn’t been collaborative but I think we can improve that.
“The closer we can get to Manu being at his best for Sale, then allowing him to be at his best for us, the better it is.
“We continue to have ongoing dialogue and we’ll get the best solution we can. Am I confident we can get him to the World Cup fit? Yeah, 100 per cent.”
Should Jones manage that then a big piece of his dream jigsaw will be in place. And he volunteered that Henry Arundell, the uncapped 20-year old from London Irish, could be another.
“Gas, power and guts are the three major prerequisites for good rugby players,” said the England coach. “Arundell has got gas, we don’t whether he has got guts, he looks like he has got enough power.
“Imagine having Joe Cokanasiga on one wing and Arundell on the other. For an international team that’s a frightening combination.”