‘Tuilagi not ready for Tests yet’ – Cockerill

Date published: February 20 2016

Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill has warned England that it's still too soon for centre Manu Tuilagi to make his Test return.

Tuilagi made a successful comeback for Leicester in their 25-19 loss to Harlequins at the Stoop on Friday. 

The 24-year-old returned to action last month, after overcoming a groin injury which kept him sidelined for 15 months. His return was short-lived as he then picked up a hamstring strain in a Champions Cup clash with Stade Français on January 24.

But he had some good moments in the loss to Quins, and played a full 80 minutes during which his power helped set up Leicester's only try.

England head coach Eddie Jones, who was in the crowd at the Stoop, has said he wants to use Tuilagi in the Six Nations clash with Wales on 12 March but Cockerill feels it's too early for a Test return.

“Manu got through the game and did some good things and made some errors as well, but everybody makes errors,” said Cockerill after the loss to Harlequins. 

“Let’s hope Manu can stay on the field and we can keep him playing. Manu played his first game here for a few weeks, so we’ll see where that leads to.

“He’s not ready to play at Test level yet. He’s played one game and still isn’t quite sharp, as you saw. 

"He did some things but needs to be managed properly. Me and Eddie can have that discussion. If he’s fit, he can play. If he’s not then he won’t. We’ll be sensible about it.”