Manu Tuilagi will make the first sales start of the season after EIGHT months out with an Achilles tendon injury… with the England center ready for crucial clash against play-off rivals Harlequins
- Manu Tuilagi appeared for the first time in eight months to help Sale beat Bristol
- Tuilagi suffered an Achilles tendon injury while playing for Northampton last season
- The 30-year-old believes they are ‘building something special’ in Sale
- He described Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson is a ‘world class coach’
After salsa dancing and walking back to fitness, Manu Tuilagi will make his first start of the season on Friday, reinforcing Sale’s ‘special’ mission to win the Premiership title again.
A week ago, the 30-year-old England center made its first appearance in eight months – when he came off the bench to help his club ambushed league leaders Bristol at AJ Bell Stadium. This time he is in the center with playoff rivals Harlequins in his sights.
Tuilagi rushed to join Sale last summer after a contract dispute ended his decade of tenure at Leicester. An emerging rookie, he was a try-scorer in the finals when the Tigers last won the top domestic award in 2013.
Manu Tuilagi makes his first start of the season after recovering from an Achilles tendon injury
When asked how much it would mean to claim another title, Tuilagi said: “It would be huge for all the guys, the staff and everyone building together. Winning would be the icing on the cake. It would be so good to do it with this group of people.
“We are building something special and it is an exciting time, but we still have a long way to go. We’re doing well and we have to go again. Our focus is on Quins. They play quality rugby.’
Tuilagi has had more than his fair share of injury and rehabilitation, but recovering after damaging his Achilles tendon in Northampton last season has proved to be a bearable, unorthodox process.
“We came up with some ideas to make sure it wasn’t just in the gym,” he said. ‘We went for a walk in the Peak District. There is a beautiful landscape there. I don’t really like walking, but towards the end I really got into it.’
The 31-year-old suffered an Achilles tendon injury while playing for Northampton last season
There were also salsa lessons, leading up to a performance for the rest of the Sale squad. Tuilagi got through that daunting assignment, but said, “I haven’t done salsa since I did the show for the boys. I am training again. Maybe when things open up again, I can learn some more.’
When asked if there would ever be a performance on Strictly Come Dancing, he added: ‘No chance! I’ll save that for home.’
Tuilagi has benefited from working under Sale’s highly respected new rugby director Alex Sanderson, whom he called a ‘world-class coach’. The admiration is mutual.
Sanderson said: “It was great to see someone so good, who has worked as hard as he, gets another chance to prove himself on the big stage. He potentially still has his best rugby in him. He raises the performance level in others.’
Tuilagi praised Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson, describing him as a ‘world class coach’