Saturday 7 December 2019

Crocked Tuilagi 'can realise world-class potential'

Manu Tuilagi
Manu Tuilagi Sportsdesk

Luckless England centre Manu Tuilagi will miss the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury - but has still been tipped to realise his "world-class potential".

The injury-plagued Leicester battering ram suffered a ligament tear in Saturday's 16-12 Aviva Premiership defeat to Saracens, and will be sidelined for at least six months.

Tuilagi has battled severe groin trouble in the last two years and only managed one replacement appearance for England in 2016.

The injury blow to Tuilagi compounds Leicester's sacking of rugby director Richard Cockerill on Monday, with interim boss Aaron Mauger left to help the Samoa-born midfielder come to terms with his latest setback.

"Manu can absolutely still realise his world-class potential, despite this latest injury," said Mauger.

Tuilagi (24) has suffered with continuous injury problems since missing the 2015 World Cup owing to both groin problems and his conviction for assaulting a police officer.

Leicester have dropped out of the Premiership's play-off places, and former All Blacks centre Mauger insisted he simply wants to "survive" the next fortnight, before considering his long-term future, even though he will be in serious consideration as a full-time replacement for Cockerill.

Tigers head coach Mauger confirmed he will remain in interim charge until the end of the season, handing Leicester breathing space to recruit their new rugby director.

Along with Mauger, the likes of former England coach Stuart Lancaster will be firmly on Leicester board's radar.

"We've had our ups and downs and events like these are pretty unsettling for the group," said Mauger of Cockerill's departure.

"We've dealt with it over the last couple of days and we've all got a big fight, a big job now, we're all responsible for the situation we're in.

"And now we've got a big job to prepare for Sunday (a trip to leaders Wasps) and to get it right there and then for the rest of the season.

"In terms of me, I just want to survive and get through the next few weeks, and enjoy the role.

"I'm lucky to have great support and some great people around me as I take on the role in the interim."

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