'I didn't assault those female police officers' - England star Manu Tuilagi
Published 10/09/2015 | 22:06
England centre Manu Tuilagi has sought to restore his reputation by outlining his version of the events that led to his conviction for assaulting two female police officers
Tuilagi feels he has been punished unfairly after being advised to "own up to what I've not done" and revealed that he would have missed the World Cup anyway because of his recurring groin injury.
The 24-year-old was suspended until January by England head coach Stuart Lancaster once he was found guilty at Leicester Magistrates court in mid May of two counts of assaulting a police officer, assault by beating and causing criminal damage.
However, he claims that both he and Lancaster already knew he had lost his race to be fit for the World Cup.
"My side of the story is not out and this is my side of the story," said Tuilagi at the Pacific Warriors premiere in central London.
"I always own up to what I've done. I feel with this one that I've owned up to what I've not done. That's why I feel it's important to get my side of the story out.
"I didn't assault any of the police officers. It looks like I have basically beaten up the two police officers, which is not the case.
"In a way I feel like I've been harshly treated. It's a bit harsh, but life is harsh, You've got to put it behind you. I'm still young, I can still hopefully make a good comeback."
Tuilagi was ordered to pay £6,205 in fines, compensation, charges and costs as a result of the fracas in the early hours of April 26 that started with an argument with a taxi driver upon leaving a nightclub and continued when police intervened.
"We started walking down the road trying to get another taxi and that is when the two police officers came along," Tuilagi said.
"They came up to me from behind and I felt someone try to grab my hands so I just pulled my hands away.
"That's it. Basically, that is assault. You can just touch someone and that is assault. Absolutely they touched me first and I had no idea they were police officers. That's out there and that's why I want to get my side of the story out."
When asked why he had pleaded guilty, Tuilagi replied: "That's a good question. We pleaded guilty because hopefully we wanted to get the case finished and done with.
"That was the plan - to go in, plead guilty and finish the case on that day, which we did.
"If we'd gone in and not pleaded guilty, we'd have to have adjourned it and that would have been right in the middle of the World Cup.
"It was the plan we went in with, with the lawyer. It was my lawyer. The lawyers said 'this is the plan' so I was like the lawyer knows what he is doing and I go with him because I trust him."
Upon learning of the conviction, Lancaster stated that Tuilagi would not be considered by England until January.
Tuilagi insists he spoke to Lancaster before the court case, informing the head coach that he had lost his fitness battle in time to participate in the World Cup.
The Leicester centre, who hopes to return to action at Christmas, claims he realised at the end of the Six Nations in March that he would miss England 2015 after breaking down for a third time.