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Aviva Premiership
Tuilagi deeply regrets Ashton assault
ESPNscrum Staff
May 21, 2011
Leicester's Manu Tuilagi trudges to the sin-bin, Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership Play-Off Semi-Final, Welford Road, Leicester, England, May 14, 2011
Manu Tuilagi trudges off after receiving a yellow card for punching Chris Ashton © Getty Images
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Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi deeply regrets his attack on Chris Ashton last weekend and fears it could cost him the chance to push his claims for a place in England's World Cup squad, according to his brother Freddie Tuilagi.

Manu Tuilagi was banned for five weeks for his brutal flurry of punches that left the Northampton winger bloodied and requiring stitches during the Aviva Premiership semi-final clash at Welford Road last weekend.

The young Tigers centre will now miss the Premiership final at Twickenham next weekend against Saracens and his indiscipline could have ended his chances of impressing England head coach Martin Johnson.

The 20-year-old received a rollicking for the 'uncharacteristic' attack from his older brother and former Leicester player Freddie, who revealed that his brother had returned to Samoa for a few weeks as he struggles to come to terms with the incident.

"He (Manu) has been really down the last couple of days, especially last Saturday," Freddie told the Leicester Mercury. "He let himself down, he let the club down, he let down all of us.

"I had a chat with him on Saturday night and Sunday. He did not come out of his room on Sunday, he was that bad. He is staying with Alex (Alesana) and just stayed in his room.

"We sat around the table having a chat but he only stayed down for five minutes. He went back upstairs, that's how bad he has taken it. He is very disappointed, I am very disappointed because it was really out of character for Manu to throw a punch like that.

"I wasn't impressed. I don't tolerate that, I don't encourage the boys, especially Manu, to do something like that. So I really had a go at him. He knows he made a big mistake, but he is a young kid and he will learn from it. He will learn the harsh way because he has had a great season, no question.

"For someone who has been playing second team and academy last year to come up . . . he has performed well. One thing I'm really proud of Manu is that he is not a dirty player, he is just a hard kid. Everyone knows Manu, he is very quiet.

"If you talk to him, all he does is smile at you. He will do anything for the boys. He is going to miss the final, and that (playing) is why you put in all your efforts throughout the year.

"For him to miss the final, he is really, really sad."

The 39-year-old, who played for Leicester between 2000 and 2004, admitted that his brother was also concerned that the incident could ruin his chances of going to the World Cup after a hugely successful season which led to him being crowned the Aviva Premiership's Discovery of the Season.

"Of course he's worried," Freddie said. "Next week, Twickenham, full house, is a big stage and that is where you want to be. With Johnno (England manager Martin Johnson) about to select his squad, he needs to play week in, week out. If you miss out it gives a chance for someone else to perform, so he's really upset."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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