Tuilagi ready to answer England's call
March 3, 2014
Manu Tuilagi showed no ill effects of his injury against the Falcons on Sunday © Getty Images
Manu Tuilagi is adamant he is ready and fit to start for England against Wales at the weekend, if his services are called upon.
Tuilagi played 69 minutes against Newcastle for Leicester on Sunday and although he was sin-binned late on for a deliberate knock-on, he showed signs of being back to his gainline-breaking best.
He will link-up with England this week at their training base and said after Leicester's win over the Falcons he was fit to play Test rugby despite the match being his first competitive game since September.
"I felt pretty good out there after all the training I have been doing and I've worked hard to get myself back to this point," Tuilagi said. "I'll be going down to training with the England boys tomorrow and we'll take it from there. The boys are doing really well and it'll be really good for me to just go down there and get settled back in there and take things from there.
"I spoke to Stuart last weekend and he said to come down after the game and train and we'll see how it goes. I knew that in the first game back I was bound to be nervous, but I just wanted that ball and I was happy with the first tackle and impact.
"If Stuart asks me if I'm ready to play I'll say 'absolutely'. Of course, I would be nervous but I always like to be nervous before a game, it keeps me on my toes. I feel I've knocked the rust off my game today. I would have liked to play the whole game and felt I could have."
Lancaster will now weigh up whether to fast-track Tuilagi back into the side. He has gone with the centre partnership of Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell in England's three matches of the 2014 championship so Tuilagi will have to perform well if he is to force his way into the XV.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Ireland's Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton