Tuilagi in fitness race for All Blacks

Date published: October 19 2014

England centre Manu Tuilagi suffered a groin injury in Leicester’s win over Ulster at Welford Road, making him a doubt for November 8.

England centre Manu Tuilagi suffered a groin injury in Leicester’s win over Ulster at Welford Road in the Champions Cup.

A similar setback ruled Tuilagi out for three weeks earlier in the season, with the latest blow putting him in a race against time to be fit for the Test next November against New Zealand at Twickenham.

“It is a recurrence of his groin (injury),” said Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

“How bad that is I’ve no idea, but clearly it is not great news is it? It is a bit of a concern for everyone.

“I can’t really comment, but you would imagine it is not going to be a one-week (injury).”

Tuilagi’s setback may open the door for Bath centre Jonathan Joseph, who has been in good form and scored his side’s only try in their heavy loss to Glasgow also on Saturday.

Cockerill was happier to see his team get off to an important winning start in Europe, following some disjointed domestic form.

“First-half, we were pretty sharp, and second-half we probably kicked the ball too much. I thought we could have scored another try in the first-half, but we will take the win,” he added.

“We had to get off to a good start. I thought it was a cracking game, a good physical contest. It’s one game, and it is good to win it. There is a long way to go, so we won’t get too excited.

“I thought we controlled field position in the first-half, we carried the ball well, we looked good physically and we dominated the lineout.

“What is most frustrating was that we had opportunities to kill the game off in the first-half, but I have nothing but praise for the players.

“We have a bucket-load of guys missing, and to beat a good Ulster side is pleasing. We have struggled to get past them in the last couple of years.

“I am happy that we’ve got a good start. Had we lost tonight, it makes it very hard to get out of the pool.

“We need to make sure we win next week (against Scarlets), and we need to beat Toulon here in December, then go to Toulon and give it our best shot.”