Manu Tuilagi: England centre sets his sights on the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Colin Newboult

England centre Manu Tuilagi says that he would “love to play in the World Cup” having recovered from his latest injury.

Tuilagi was a key part of their run to the 2019 showpiece event, scoring their only try in the dominant 19-7 semi-final triumph over New Zealand.

However, the back has struggled to stay on the field since then with injuries constantly disrupting the 31-year-old’s career.

Missed the Australia tour

He missed England’s tour to Australia after undergoing a minor knee operation but is due to start for Sale Sharks in their Premiership game against Northampton Saints on Sunday.

The centre admits that he has had to adapt his regime but believes that he is now in a good position going forward.

“It’s a case of looking at myself. I’ve learned a lesson in terms of sleep. You have to rest your body when you work hard. I could have done that better before. I would love to play in the World Cup,” Tuilagi told the Daily Mail.

“But it’s about how I get there. I have to focus on now. We have a plan at Sale and they have a good relationship with England. My body feels good. It’s about managing it through a long season with recovery.”

Tuilagi admits that he has struggled mentally at times with his inability to stay fit, but insists that he has grown as a person and learnt to adapt to every situation which has come his way.

“It’s tough but as you get older you learn and can start to accept it. My wife is everything to me. She’s there every day and it’s tough for her when I’m injured. She’s helped me to be where I am and allowed me to live out my dream,” he said.

“But when it happens, you have to move on and start looking at the plan to get back. I always have the day I’m going to be back on the field in the back of my mind.”

Key to England’s plans

The centre is considered one of England’s most important players, with his sheer presence on the field providing the team with another dimension.

Eddie Jones’ men still managed to claim a huge series win without him on the pitch, defeating the Wallabies 2-1 in July.

And Tuilagi believes that result Down Under shows there is more than enough talent to cope with his absence, despite the midfield powerhouse desperately wanting the buzz of running out on the biggest stage.

“There are boys that can fill in for me with England. We have unbelievable players that can go and win. Look at the tour to Australia, amazing. We’ve got depth, but if I’m fortunate enough to be there, I love it,” he added.

“Coming out into stadiums like Twickenham is what dreams are made of. I love all the England fans. I feel privileged to have people who support me and if there are fans who don’t, I still love them.”

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