The English host Wales this Saturday in a must-win Guinness Six Nations encounter and their planning has been emboldened by having the services again of Tuilagi, who missed the opening matches versus Scotland and Italy.
Tuilagi damaged his hamstring when scoring against the Springboks in November and the injury required an eleven-week layoff before he returned to Gallagher Premiership action for Sale. With 80 minutes accumulated from two league appearances, he was called up by England for last week’s fallow week training camp in London.
Now he has been retained by Eddie Jones in the 25 that have been kept on at Pennyhill Park ahead of Thursday’s matchday 23 announcement after the squad was pared down from 35 on Tuesday evening. It leaves Tuilagi primed for a return to the England team and new attack coach Gleeson, who previously worked with the midfielder throughout the three-game November series, is delighted by the prospect of what it can do for their creativity.
Usual midfield pick Tuilagi started on the wing in the mid-series win over Australia and asked if a floating role was potentially on the cards against Wales, Gleeson curiously went a step further. “Yeah and back row. We talked about back row because he could go in there at some point. Manu is the type of player who can jump up anywhere. Yeah, we have got options with the squad we have got. Nothing is ruled out with Manu, or any of the other players in fact.”
What makes Tuilagi so important for England? “Manu can just take the ball and make metres and get us quick ruck just by himself. Not everyone can do that and that is why Manu is the player that he is, because of his power, and he had got a good rugby brain as well. He just adds.