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File photo dated 01/10/11 of England rugby international Manu Tuilagi. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday February 4, 2013. England centre Manu Tuilagi is available for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations match against Ireland but number eight Ben Morgan is "struggling" to be fit, head coach Stuart Lancaster has announced. See PA story RUGBYU England. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire

File photo dated 01/10/11 of England rugby international Manu Tuilagi. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday February 4, 2013. England centre Manu Tuilagi is available for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations match against Ireland but number eight Ben Morgan is "struggling" to be fit, head coach Stuart Lancaster has announced. See PA story RUGBYU England. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire

File photo dated 01/10/11 of England rugby international Manu Tuilagi. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday February 4, 2013. England centre Manu Tuilagi is available for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations match against Ireland but number eight Ben Morgan is "struggling" to be fit, head coach Stuart Lancaster has announced. See PA story RUGBYU England. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire

One big man in Jonathan Davies down; one bigger man in Manu Tuilagi to come.

Brian O'Driscoll could be one more marauding, all-consuming, intelligent 80 minutes away from not only nailing down the number 13 test jersey for the British & Irish Lions tour, but also the captaincy.

Surely, it cannot be just a coincidence that in all the preamble to the summer tour, the only current player continually to the forefront of Sky Sports' heavy advertising of the tour is O'Driscoll.

It was noticeable how the 2005 tour captain was wearing the Lions shirt, not that of Ireland, in his pre-match interview with the BBC's former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies on Saturday.

In fact, O'Driscoll may not even have to outplay Manu Tuilagi (pictured right) at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday. They could be interchangeable in red.

Given the demise of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies in Cardiff, there is every reason to consider O'Driscoll-Tuilagi as a left-right centre partnership rather than an inside-outside one.

 

decisions

The physical phenomenon Tuilagi has been passed free to participate in England's preparations: "He is fit, able to train and should take a full part in tomorrow (today) and Wednesday," said England coach Stuart Lancaster.

"We'll go from there. He knows he'll have to train well to get back in the team. There are selection decisions across the field and that's one of them. Billy (Twelvetrees) played well and Brad's contribution, as always, was positive.

"But Manu brings a unique set of skills and attributes to the game and the team, as we saw in his performance against the All Blacks.

"Genuinely, I'll wait and see how he trains tomorrow and on Wednesday before I make any decisions on the centre partnership.

"The reason I prefer to announce the team later in the week is that it allows me to look at the players in training and see who's up to speed and who isn't".

Whatever happens on Sunday for two men who will be there to tear each other apart, they could be joined at the hip in the summer.


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