Manu Tuilagi brings England career to an end with move to France

Tuilagi will leave Sale Sharks for Bayonne at the end of the season, meaning he will be ineligible for England selection

Duncan Bech
Monday 18 March 2024 17:36 GMT
Manu Tuilagi is to leave Sale at the end of the season
Manu Tuilagi is to leave Sale at the end of the season (PA Wire)

Manu Tuilagi has played his final game for England after agreeing to join French club Bayonne next season in a two-year-deal.

Tuilagi will depart Sale Sharks in June with the outcome of a medical the last hurdle before the move is finalised, the PA news agency understands.

The 32-year-old centre won his 60th cap in Saturday’s 33-31 defeat by France in Lyon after coming on as a replacement for Henry Slade in the 59th minute.

Rugby Football Union regulations mean that any player leaving the Gallagher Premiership becomes ineligible for international selection.

Tuilagi has been an automatic pick in the midfield for four successive England coaches due to the power he provides on both sides of the ball.

However, his career has been heavily interrupted by a number of serious injuries including groin, chest, hamstring, knee and a broken hand.

Manu Tuilagi has been a stalwart in England’s midfield when fit for four successive England coaches (Getty Images)

Had he been fit for every match since his debut in 2011, he would have amassed 156 caps.

Ollie Lawrence’s rampaging performance against France, which included two tries, suggests England have finally found his successor as a hard running centre but Tuilagi’s unique physicality means he will never be truly replaced.

Bayonne are positioned ninth in the Top 14 table and the move is expected to be officially confirmed this week.

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