Lancaster demands discipline from Tuilagi
May 30, 2012
England coach Stuart Lancaster knows his side must be at their most disciplined if they are to win in South Africa © PA Photos
England coach Stuart Lancaster has called on Manu Tuilagi to maintain his discipline on the forthcoming tour of South Africa following his latest brush with authority.
The Leicester centre was cited earlier this week for a reckless tackle on Harlequins' Danny Care during their Aviva Premiership final clash at Twickenham. He faced the prospect of being ruled out of England's three-Test, five-match tour if found guilty but was cleared and will now fly out with the rest of the squad this evening.
Lancaster admitted he was relieved to see one of his key players escape a costly ban and has moved to make sure a repeat is avoided against the Springboks. "I have had a one-to-one with every member of the touring party," Lancaster said. "I had a good conversation with Manu on the strengths of his game and the areas we need to make sure he is on top of. Part of that is tackle technique and discipline. He understands that.
"He is a young player and still getting experience. I was relieved. There was a concern. I am pleased to see the people in charge found it was dealt with on the pitch at the time. I am delighted he is available."
The International Rugby Board has called for referees to come down strongly on dangerous tackles in the past year, with the red card shown to Wales' Sam Warburton by Alain Rolland during his side's Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat to France the highest profile example of the zero-tolerance policy wanted.
It was not the first time that Tuilagi has courted trouble. In 2011 he received a five-match ban for punching England team-mate Chris Ashton during the Tigers' Premiership semi-final clash with Northampton. Later that year, following England's exit from the World Cup, he was fined £3000 for jumping into Auckland Harbour from a ferry.
"The directive is clear and players are working hard to abide to that," Lancaster said. "It is a difficult one, an 11-stone scrum-half comes running at a 17-stone bloke. Danny said the force of the impact took him off his feet. People recognise Manu's intention was not to hurt anyone. We all understand the reason the rule is there. Players just need to be careful if you are picking somebody up."
Lancaster has also highlighted the need for the entire squad to keep cool during their eagerly-anticipated tour. The 55-26 win over the Barbarians last Sunday was Lancaster's fifth victory in six matches since he was appointed head coach, but he knows they cannot let their on-field discipline drop for a moment if they want to keep that run going.
"When we do video sessions we will highlight areas of 'red flag' - things such as the directives around the breakdown, competing for the ball when the referee calls ruck, being onside and tip tackles," he said. "It is a fantastic opportunity to pit ourselves against one of the best rugby-playing nations in the world. It is a great opportunity for England. We spoke last night about being good ambassadors on and off the field. That is what we want to achieve going into the tour."
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