Injured England duo Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes WILL NOT recover before Warren’s Lions squad announced Gatland … with former Wales boss having a dilemma about betting on their condition
- The injured English duo Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes remain on the sidelines
- With Warren Gatland’s Lions team being announced, they will be confident in their reputation
- Sales center Tuilagi, 29, hasn’t played since he tore his achilles in September
- Lawes had to withdraw from the England Six Nations squad with a chest injury
Injured England’s duo Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes will only have to rely on their reputation if they want to be picked for the Lions this week, while both are still far away to return.
Tuilagi, 29, has not played since he ripped his Achilles in September and Lawes, 32, had to retire from England’s Six Nations squad in February following a chest injury.
Sportsmail understands neither is ready to play for Sale and Northampton respectively this weekend, so Lions head coach Warren Gatland will have to bet on their fitness if he wants to select either of them for his touring party next Thursday.
The injured English duo Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes will have to rely on the reputation of Lions
Tuilagi’s return in the Sale was slated for this month, but it’s clear he won’t be playing against Leicester in the Premiership on Friday night – an insider rated as a week away from his comeback ‘at the very least’.
And Lawes is expected to make only the last three or four league games for Saints, which means it will be difficult to make Gatland’s lean 36-man squad with such a range of options in the second and back tiers.
With George North unavailable due to injury, the Lions may be missing a major ball-bearing threat in the back, so Tuilagi could very well be called up as such a powerful midfield force.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland will have to bet on their fitness if he wants to select either
But the center has likely only played about six thoroughbred games in the nine-month span of the South Africa tour, if handled by the Lions.
An added complication for both of England’s men would be if their clubs make it to the Premiership playoffs or the end-of-season final.
If so, both would barely be able to meet the rest of the squad, which will travel to Jersey from June 13 until they play against Japan in Scotland a fortnight later, before the flight to South Africa.
Gatland and his coaches will have to decide this week whether they can afford to take on one of the Lions’ thinnest teams of the professional era, knowing they have limited time to get up to speed.
But there is hope for some Englishmen who have not recently been selected by Eddie Jones, with the idea that Danny Care, Marcus Smith, Sam Simmonds and Ben Spencer are all on the Gatland longlist for selection.