England centre Manu Tuilagi will start for club-side Leicester Tigers on Saturday for their crucial top-of-the-table clash with Premiership leaders Harlequins. Tuilagi has been released from the England squad along with teammates Toby Flood and Thomas Waldrom, after all three were named on the bench for England’s impressive victory in Dublin last Sunday.
The trio were released to in order to get some game time, especially for Tuilagi as he has not started a game since January 13 due to injury which kept him out of the England’s RBS Six Nations victory over Scotland, and limited him to an appearance off the bench last time out.
Despite nearly getting on the end of a Ben Young’s chip into the try zone, Tuilagi still lacks match fitness, and an intense game with reigning Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins should go a long way to prepare the centre for ‘Le Crunch’ against France next weekend.
France look likely to switch Wesley Fofana back to his preferred inside-centre position, meaning an enthralling battle lies in store for both sets of fans. He will hope to get through the game at The Twickenham Stoop first though, as the Tigers continue their pursuit of leaders Quins.
Harlequins will have their own England player back as scrum-half Danny Care is also released from the training squad. Care didn’t feature against Ireland having been named as a replacement for the game, with Ben Youngs remaining on the pitch for the 80 minutes as he looks to be back to his very best. Care will be hoping to impress Stuart Lancaster, Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree, who will no doubt be watching the game with so many squad players involved.
Elsewhere, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes have returned to Northampton Saints as they travel to Worcester, with the latter recovering from a head injury suffered in an almighty collision with full-back Rob Kearney at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday. Lawes, who had on just come on, tried to play on but was obviously feeling the effects of the knock, and he was soon replaced by Waldrom for the final few minutes.
Prop’s Mako Vunipola and David Wilson have returned to Saracens and Bath respectively, with the two also featuring off the bench against Declan Kidney’s side last weekend. The remainder of the squad have been training at the FA’s St Georges Park in Burton, and they will be joined by injured trio Ben Morgan, Alex Corbisiero and Freddie Burns so that their rehabilitation can be monitored.