It has not been the best of months for Manu Tuilagi. There was the World Cup quarter-final exit to France, then the jump from the Auckland ferry that earned England's hyperactive young centre a £3,000 fine and a slap on the wrists. Now there is the smack to the head that will keep the 20-year-old out of action for six weeks with a broken cheekbone.
The fateful collision actually occurred at Welford Road last Friday night, when Tuilagi scored one of Leicester's four tries in a 44-14 LV= Cup victory against Gloucester. The extent of the damage only emerged yesterday when Richard Cockerill, Leicester's director of rugby, named his team for the Premiership match against Sale at Edgeley Park tonight.
At the same time, Cockerill revealed that Tuilagi's centre partner, Anthony Allen, is expected to be out for three months after a freak DIY accident. The sometime England international severed the artery in a thumb while cutting kitchen flooring with a Stanley knife.
"Anthony has had surgery and it will take three months to heal," Cockerill said. "Manu suffered a broken cheekbone after a clash of heads in the Gloucester game and we'll be without him for about six weeks.
"We're having a terrible run of luck, especially with Mathew Tait's groin injury and Billy Twelvetrees being out with an ankle injury."
In the absence of Tait and Twelvetrees, Matt Smith and the Argentinian winger Horacio Agulla will fill the breach in the centres for the Tigers tonight. Cockerill's side are also without the injured Ben Youngs and will have Sam Harrison at scrum-half.