Sale boss Alex Sanderson says a “simmering” Manu Tuilagi is ready to prove his England career is not over when he faces Northampton at Franklins Gardens.
Tuilagi has seen Bath’s Ollie Lawrence chosen in the defence busting role against Italy after Harlequins Joe Marchant was picked to partner captain Owen Farrell in the loss to Scotland leaving the Sale centre surplus to requirements.
Sanderson has spoken to all of his England players – Tuilagi, Bevan Rodd and Jonny Hill -who have been left out of head coach Steve Borthwick’s latest 26 man training squad to face Wales and is confident they are mentally and physically ready to take on Northampton. The team will also feature fit again Tom Curry and outside half George Ford who is 40 minutes into his comeback from serious injury and Sanderson would not be surprised if both are added to the England training squad next week in the build up to the Cardiff test match.
Tuilagi wants to force his way back in and prove that at 31-years-old he is yesterday’s man for England and Sanderson said: “Manu is all smiles but underneath I sense a simmering and he definitely wants to show the powers at be that they made the wrong decision in not selecting him. I would say he has a point to prove – all our England boys do.
“We have done the right thing by him and maybe it is a stroke of genius by Steve (Borthwick) to motivate Manu to produce some of his best rugby. The more game time Manu gets, the more special things we are going to see. We have to make sure that doesn’t boil over into indiscipline or hurting someone.
“Manu is one of the world’s best centre with a point to prove and I would be daft not to pick him this weekend. Obviously. England to some degree must o be questioning his recent form and I think he has been good for us with more game time and more robust. That is what we wanted to fix with managing his loading and he is feeling fresh.
“We have addressed the England situation (with the players) and if they were still kicking stones then I would not be doing my job right. They wouldn’t be resilient enough and it won’t be the first time in this environment. I am impressed with how excited they are and we have to make sure they are on Sale’s page not England’s.
“Tom Curry is available this weekend and it is the same with George Ford and if they can prove they are fit and in form there is a very good chance they will be included ( by England). It will be up to Steve to decide about George after seven months out with 40 mins and whatever he gets at the weekend but he is looking really sharp. He is right back on the bike and making a big impact at training.”