Six Nations 2019: England want Manu Tuilagi to ‘do some damage’
George Ford says the Leicester centre is ready to make his mark
England head coach Eddie Jones is expected to make one or two notable omissions when he announces his Six Nations squad today.
The Daily Telegraph claims that former captain Chris Robshaw hasn’t made the cut, with the Harlequins flanker still some way short of proving his fitness to Jones after a long lay-off from injury.
The same goes for Bath centre Jonathan Joseph, who is still getting back to full steam after nine months out with an ankle problem.
Care comes a cropper
The Times reports that the most notable exclusion will be Robshaw’s Harlequins teammate, Danny Care, who has been axed to make way for Dan Robson, the uncapped Wasps scrum-half.
The decision “could mean the end of the international road” for Care, notes the newspaper, which says that the 32-year-old, capped 84 caps by England, has “fallen out of favour with Jones”.
Robson, 26, has played consistently well for Wasps in recent seasons, while Care’s form has fluctuated.
Care’s last appearance for England was in November’s laboured win over Japan, a game in which he failed to provide any impetus to his backline.
Robson will be one of 35 players who fly to Portugal next week for a training camp - and alongside him on the plane will be Wasps’ teammate Joe Launchbury.
The second row forward has been plagued by injury in the last six months, but he’s fit again, as are Billy and Mako Vunipola, who both missed England’s November Tests because of injury.
Also fighting fit is Manu Tuilagi, the Leicester centre who last started a Six Nations match in 2013. In the past six years the 27-year-old has spent more time on the treatment table than on the rugby pitch, but he seems to have recovered from a string of injuries.
Leicester teammate George Ford believes the powerful centre will make his mark in the Six Nations.
“Manu looks as good as I’ve seen for a while,” Ford told The Guardian. “He is out there every day, doing full sessions and looking as if he is moving a lot better.
“With Manu, the crucial thing is just for him to keep playing because he will definitely get back to the player he was. Even when he does not get the ball, the number of defenders he attracts is so important to a side.”
Do some damage
Asked why Tuilagi is so crucial to England’s attack, Ford replied: “I have never seen anyone as explosive as Manu. He is aggressive with it too. Manu wants to do some damage on the field. He is unbelievably powerful and so hard to stop.
“At the end of the day, he wants the ball in his hands in a bit of space. And if there isn’t any space, he wants to run over the top of someone.”
2019 Six Nations fixtures and TV guide
- 1 February: France vs. Wales (8pm, live on BBC)
- 2 February: Scotland vs. Italy (2.15pm, live on BBC); Ireland vs. England (4.45pm, live on ITV)
- 9 February: Scotland vs. Ireland (2.15pm, live on BBC); Italy vs. Wales (4.45pm, live on ITV)
- 10 February: England vs. France (3pm, live on ITV)
- 23 February: France vs. Scotland (2.15pm, live on BBC); Wales vs. England (4.45pm, live on BBC)
- 24 February: Italy vs. Ireland (3pm, live on ITV)
- 9 March: Scotland vs. Wales (2.15pm, live on BBC); England vs. Italy (3pm, live on ITV)
- 10 March: Ireland vs. France (4.45pm, live on ITV)
- 16 March: Italy vs. France (12.30pm, live on ITV); Wales vs. Ireland (2.45pm, live on BBC)
- 17 March: England vs. Scotland (5pm, live on BBC)