Sport Rugby

Sunday 25 February 2018

Manu Tuilagi’s England antics partly down to 'mental torture', claims Leicester boss Matt O'Connor

Manu Tuilagi has been warned to improve his off-field behaviour
Manu Tuilagi has been warned to improve his off-field behaviour

Leicester head coach Matt O'Connor says “mental torture” was part of the reason for Manu Tuilagi’s behaviour that led to him being sent home from an England training camp last week.

Tuilagi and Sale Sharks wing Denny Solomona were sent home in disgrace from England's training camp in south west London after returning to the team hotel drunk following a night out.

Both players missed the final session of a three-day gathering in Teddington, with O’Connor admitting Tuilagi had “got it wrong”

And O’Connor believes Tuilagi’s persistent injury problems have played a part in his actions, although he does not think there will be any further ramifications from the incident.

"He's not been able to express himself on the field and with that goes a fair bit of mental torture," O'Connor told the BBC.

"Manu has got stuff wrong before but he's not the first young man to get stuff wrong.

"Hopefully moving forward he understands that decisions he makes have ramifications, and he can make the right ones.

"He's just wants to play - there's nothing about the game that he doesn't enjoy."

And George Ford, who is now Tuilagi’s team-mate for club as well as country having moved back to Leicester from Bath, believes Tuilagi can get back to his best.

"We know that Manu at his best is an unbelievable, world-class player,” he said. “Everyone has been putting their attention and energy into getting him on to the field and making him the best player he can be.

"I've been nothing but impressed with Manu in training. He's had a few years where he hasn't played a lot of rugby, and it's tough when you haven't played for a long time, but he has looked good.”

Meanwhile, fly-half Katy McLean admits England Women need to improve their kicking after landing just six of their 20 kicks so far in the World Cup.

She said: “I think as a group; for us as kickers, it is something that is very important to us and something we take a lot of personal pride in. It does bother us.”

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