Manu Tullagi is in danger of being ruled out of the Six Nations after suffering a hamstring tear which may require surgery.
The 30-year-old was helped off at Twickenham last Saturday after scoring the first try in England’s victory over world champions South Africa.
Tuilagi will now see a specialist to find out if he needs an operation.
Manu Tuilagi was forced off with a hamstring injury during England’s win over South Africa
The 30-year-old appeared to aggravate an existing problem after scoring the game’s first try
Alex Sanderson, director of rugby at Tuilagi’s club Sale, said: ‘It’s at least six weeks out, but could be a few months if he needs surgery — which we hope he doesn’t. I’m gutted for him, but it doesn’t rule him out for the season and it’s not career-defining.
‘You can’t just play him for consecutive games. That’s obvious from his history.’
Sale have handled him with care this season but Tuilagi was picked to start three Tests on consecutive weekends for England — against Tonga, Australia and the Springboks. Following the second of those fixtures, he had a hamstring scan after feeling tightness.
Sanderson was frustrated, but not critical of Tuilagi’s treatment. ‘What do I get out of pointing fingers? He’s just prone to injury.’ England head coach Eddie Jones may find himself with a midfield selection dilemma at the start of the Six Nations, thanks to the possible absence of Tuilagi and Test captain Owen Farrell.
Alex Sanderson has refused to blame England and says he is ‘gutted’ for the powerful centre
Tuilagi’s Six Nations availability may well be affected if his latest injury requires surgery
Asked for an update on his skipper yesterday, Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall said: ‘Owen had an operation on Friday. We know he’ll get back as quickly as he can and hopefully that’s in time to play a game or two for us before the Six Nations.’
The RFU released their annual financial report yesterday which revealed the impact of Covid, with revenue down by £70millon to £97m.
Meanwhile, World Rugby have approved changes to eligibility rules to allow inactive, capped players to switch nationality from January, subject to proving a ‘close link to that union via birth right’. The intention is that Pacific Island nations will benefit from being able to pick players with Fijian, Samoan and Tongan heritage, who have not represented another country in the previous three y