‘People are getting excited about Manu Tuilagi being back in the England squad and people are right to be excited’

England head into their most important autumn international campaign of the Eddie Jones era needing to turn around their form and produce the type of rugby that will have the nation believing they can challenge for next year’s Rugby World Cup once again, but it’s evident from the Portuguese training camp this week that they have a new, familiar weapon in the ranks.

From Jones to Owen Farrell and beyond, there is an excitement among the squad that Manu Tuilagi is finally ready to be unleashed on South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

The Leicester Tigers centre has not played for England in more than two-and-a-half years, while his last start for the national team came on the 2014 summer tour of New Zealand, due to persistent injury problems.

But with the 27-year-old back at full fitness and raring to go for the Quilter Internationals, he is starting to create a buzz that is not only contained to the fans.


England’s autumn international squad





1/36 Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs)

2/36 Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs)

3/36 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)

4/36 Jamie George (Saracens)

5/36 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs)

6/36 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)

7/36 Nick Schonert (Worcester Warriors)

8/36 Maro Itjoe (Saracens)

9/36 Charlie Ewels (Bath)

10/36

11/36 George Kruis (Saracens)

12/36 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)

13/36 Brad Shields (Wasps)

14/36 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)

15/36 Michael Rhodes (Saracens)

16/36 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)

17/36 Sam Underhill (Bath)

18/36 Zach Mercer (Bath)

19/36 Ben Morgan (Gloucester)

20/36 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)

21/36 Danny Care (Harlequins)

22/36 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

23/36 Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)

24/36 Owen Farrell (Saracens)

25/36 George Ford (Leicester Tigers)

26/36 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)

27/36 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)

28/36 Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors)

29/36 Alex Lozowski (Saracens)

30/36 Nathan Earle (Harlequins)

31/36 Elliot Daly (Wasps)

32/36 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)

33/36 Chris Ashton (Saracens)

34/36 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)

35/36 Joe Cokanasiga (Bath)

36/36 Mike Brown (Harlequins)

1/36 Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs)

2/36 Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs)

3/36 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)

4/36 Jamie George (Saracens)

5/36 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs)

6/36 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)

7/36 Nick Schonert (Worcester Warriors)

8/36 Maro Itjoe (Saracens)

9/36 Charlie Ewels (Bath)

10/36

11/36 George Kruis (Saracens)

12/36 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)

13/36 Brad Shields (Wasps)

14/36 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)

15/36 Michael Rhodes (Saracens)

16/36 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)

17/36 Sam Underhill (Bath)

18/36 Zach Mercer (Bath)

19/36 Ben Morgan (Gloucester)

20/36 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)

21/36 Danny Care (Harlequins)

22/36 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

23/36 Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)

24/36 Owen Farrell (Saracens)

25/36 George Ford (Leicester Tigers)

26/36 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)

27/36 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)

28/36 Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors)

29/36 Alex Lozowski (Saracens)

30/36 Nathan Earle (Harlequins)

31/36 Elliot Daly (Wasps)

32/36 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)

33/36 Chris Ashton (Saracens)

34/36 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)

35/36 Joe Cokanasiga (Bath)

36/36 Mike Brown (Harlequins)

Here’s what has been said this week:

Eddie Jones

“Manu is getting back to his best, definitely moving in the right direction. The good thing is he is doing the basics brilliantly; that is really important going forward. We want him to do the basics brilliantly and if he can keep doing that then we are going to be in a good position.

“Manu has looked really good. He’s come into the camp in really good nick, physically and mentally. He’s enjoying being back in the England squad. He obviously brings something different and he’s pushing hard for a spot in the 23.”

Owen Farrell

“Manu running in a straight line is difficult to deal with but it’s not just that with him. He’s got some brilliant subtleties to his game as well which makes him even more difficult to stop. He’s not just your typical big bloke who is predictable and who you can tackle low and roundabout stop him, he’s a brilliant line runner, he’s got good feet, good feel and he’s unbelievably powerful. He definitely showed that in his last game against the Scarlets and you saw how much of a handful he was.”

“He is pretty unique. Everybody can see that. He is a game-breaker, in terms of making something happen, it could be out of nothing. So obviously that is exciting. He is relaxed. He is pretty calm, always has been. He loves being out there and playing his rugby.”

Ben Youngs

“People are getting excited about Manu being back in the squad and people are right to be excited. He is a game-changer. Before he had such a terrible run of injuries, if you look back to 2013, he was tearing down trees.

“We haven’t seen enough of him since then. We had a glimpse of him with England in 2016, at the end of that Six Nations, when he was part of the squad.

“We saw him the other week against the Scarlets; the damage that he created. People are going to get unbelievably excited about it.

“I see him day-to-day at the club. I’ve seen him when he’s gone through his dark periods and I’ve seen him in those periods when he’s come through the other side, you think, ‘Here we go’ then, boom, something happens again.

“I’m so pleased to see him back in this environment, but also, I think the performance against the Scarlets has done his confidence the world of good. Everyone has been watching him, waiting for it, then you maybe see one carry and think, ‘There it is’, but you might not it again for the next 10 or 15 minutes.

“In that second half against the Scarlets, it was the most dominant display we’ve seen from him. He just grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and I was so pleased for him. Everyone just watched him that night and thought, ‘He’s back’.

“That is what everyone has been waiting for. Everyone has just been thinking ‘Let’s see it, come on, let’s see it’. I want the best for England and the best for my mate and I’m just so glad he’s back here again. He’s a game-changer.

“Australia have got Israel Folau; a game-changer who can make something out of nothing and win you a game, with the last play of the game. Manu is that person for England.

“You know when you just get that sense that someone is on it? You just give the ball to him and let him go. Even his try [against Scarlets] in the corner; there were three blokes on him but he still managed to score. When he’s in that mood, just let him have it and watch him go. Just get him the ball.

“We’ve got to be smart in how we use him. We’re all talking about Manu so South Africa are probably talking about Manu too. So we have to be careful with how we use him. That Scarlets game was great but international rugby is different and South Africa are one of the most physical teams around. They are pretty used to guys who are Manu’s size, although maybe not as powerful.

“Those first engagements are always pretty ferocious, but hopefully he is involved and we have got to be really clever with how we use him. He’s going to attract defenders, so then we can either use him as a decoy or as a punch guy for us. It’s really exciting.”

Mike Brown

“Firstly, on a personal note, I’ve played with him a number of times and it’s great to see him back in the England set-up. He’s had such a tough time with injuries so it’s great to see him back and playing well for Leicester. It’s great to see him around the camp as well; he’s a great bloke to have around.

“Manu is such a special player, in terms of what he brings to the game and the team. It’s great to have that sort of player with us again and pushing for selection. He’s a great player on his day and we need those sort of players if we want to go on and win the World Cup, so it’s great to see him back.

“Faz (Farrell) is spot-on; Manu is a unique player. He is such a powerful man with an off-loading game and an ability to get over the gainline and cause havoc for defences. If defences focus on him there will be spaces elsewhere, but if they don’t look after him, he can easily beat a man with his power. He can beat two men with his power. He’s a unique player and it’s great to have him back in the squad.”

Ben Morgan

“He’s a fierce competitor who runs hard. He’s a hard man to stop; we’ve seen that in the Premiership. He can be absolutely destructive and I’ve got fond memories of playing with him. He is a wrecking ball when he gets going like that. He is so explosive.

“Someone like him can really rally a team. If your set piece is going well, the energy in the team lifts. If your 10 is kicking well, the energy in the team lifts. If your full-back is taking every high kick, the energy in the team lifts. Everyone has a contributory factor and it’s great to see when Manu is at his destructive best like that. For us forwards, we can just roll round the corner, take front-foot ball and get stuck in again.

“To know we have a threat like that is great for us and I’m sure the opposition are looking at it and wondering how they’re going to deal with it.”

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