British and Irish Lions 2013: Party over as Tiger Manu Tuilagi plays catch-up with Lions

Final duties of Leicester and Leinster stars means they must work even harder for their places

Manu Tuilagi, one of 13 late arrivals who only linked up with the Lions tour party the day before departure due to domestic commitments, accepts that he faces having to play catch-up in the contest to secure a coveted starting place come the first Test against Australia.

Tuilagi is one of six Leicester players and another half dozen from Leinster who arrived at the team's pre-departure base in London on Sunday having been delayed by domestic finals the previous day. Rory Best, the Ulster hooker, only checked in hours before the 37-strong squad flew to Hong Kong.

The squad will have their first full training session today at the So Kon Po Recreation ground before the team for the opening match of the tour, against the Barbarians on Saturday, is announced by Warren Gatland tomorrow.

The starters, and most of the bench, are not expected to contain many of the Leinster and Leicester contingent, although Best or Tom Youngs will have to feature to cover for the Wales hooker Richard Hibbard, while props Dan Cole and Cian Healy could also be in the match-day squad. It means Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies are likely to get first go in the centres with Tuilagi and Brian O'Driscoll, waiting until the first game in Australia – against Western Force in Perth next Wednesday – for their chance.

Centre may well prove the keenest contest for a starting place come the first Test in Brisbane on 22 June. O'Driscoll has admitted he will have to play catch-up on the Welsh duo, who have trained well over the last two weeks, and Tuilagi, too, knows there is no time to waste in what will be a tough competition for his No 13 shirt.

"No doubt about that," said Tuilagi. "The talent that we have in the team is massive. I came in yesterday and we watched training and it looked really sharp. That's the level you have to be. You just have to be on your game the whole time here, training and competing for places in the team.

"It's going to be hard, a massive challenge. We had a sit-down with Owen [Farrell], Jamie and a few of the boys and they told us what we need to know. We need to get up to speed and there are a few sore bodies from the weekend. For us boys just coming in we have to get our homework done, get up to speed with everything and be ready for our turn."

What the latecomers – Best apart, having finished on the losing side against Leinster – have in their favour, according to Gatland, is the boost from having been part of successful teams, and the Leicester contingent – Tuilagi plus the Youngs brothers, Cole, Tom Croft and Geoff Parling – took particular relish from their Premiership victory over Northampton.

"I am still happy and smiling from that," said Tuilagi. "It was a great way to end the season with Leicester. Losing the last two finals made it a lot better to win the third time."

There was a celebration on the team bus back home to Leicester afterwards followed by the pain of an early start the following morning to get back to London and Lions duties. The Samoan-born Tuilagi, the youngest of six rugby playing brothers, will be joined in Australia by his parents, with his father relishing the chance of seeing his son in a Lions shirt.

"Leading up to this year every time I spoke to him he was like 'when are the Lions getting picked?'" said Tuilagi.

"I had to say 'Dad that's not this year, it's next year'. When I found out I was in I couldn't wait to tell him."

Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone