Manu Tuilagi made his long-awaited return on Sunday afternoon in the Investec Champions Cup against Stade Francais, sparking the inevitable discussions about his future. The England veteran missed the last six weeks with a broken hand, just the latest in a long list of injuries. Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson addressed the issue during the week.

Sale Sharks veteran Manu Tuilagi made his long awaited season debut on Sunday afternoon in the Investec Champions Cup against Stade Francais, sparking inevitable discussions about his long-term future.
His first appearance of the campaign came after recovering from a hand injury, just the latest in a long list of setbacks that have slowed his career.
TNT Sports pundit Tom May spoke about Tuilagi’s presence before the match, arguing that the England veteran remains a major contributor.
He said: “Huge value and they’ll be delighted to have him back on the pitch. He plays with a smile on his face. He enjoys being out there. He enjoys being physical and direct.”
Continuing, May explained that the burly centre can be useful as both a direct contributor and a distraction.
He said: “The key for Sale is how they use him.
There’s going to be times when you say ‘Manu, here’s the ball, go He’ll say yes with a smile if you run through a brick wall, but you can really use him to make room. He is able to take out two or three opponents without receiving the ball.”
Then, fellow commentator Sonja McLaughlan posed the query that was on everyone’s thoughts.
She continued: “He’s 30-something, and I know he’s hoping for another year on his contract here, and actually because of his injuries he probably hasn’t played as much rugby as others of his quality and age.”
May expressed his agreement with McLaughlan, citing his personal experience as a former player who went up against Tuilagi in a heated battle.
He said: “Amazingly, it’s only his 45th club appearance in five years; and the first one for Sale this season. For All of the teams at which he has been associated would like those stats to be considerably higher because he adds so much value to the squad.You have to control it when you have someone that large and explosive. Being aware of what it takes to confront him, he is unyielding. The enthusiasm that he brings to the style of play, which we have seen him bring over a lot of years, doesn’t go away or diminish from minute one to minute eighty. It isn’t progressing.
Despite widespread speculation in 2022 that Tuilagi would quit English rugby in pursuit of a one-time wage boost, he stayed at Sale.


Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson spoke to TNT Sports ahead of the match, revealing that Tuilagi’s time on the sidelines had done little to dull his enthusiasm.
He said: “A 30-odd-year-old with the contagious energy of a 19-year-old. I asked him what he was looking forward to and he was like ‘just getting out there’.”
Sanderson also explained how he managed to keep Tuilagi in his press conference ahead of the Investec Champions Cup opener.
He said: “Last year was supposed to be Manu’s last year, but with Jono Ross leaving and Coenie (Oosthuizen) going back (to South Africa), some money in the pot opened up. It was like, ‘Right, brilliant, we can keep you’.”
Sanderson continued, saying: “Then when he came back from the World Cup I was like, ‘Right, how are you feeling? You reckon you have got another year in you?’ I don’t know how we are going to do it still, but he is like, ‘Let’s get back on the field and go for another steak’, so we will chat over a glass of wine.”
Speaking directly to the issue of Tuilagi’s future, Sanderson left the door open.
“He is more excited and energetic than most of the 19- and 20-year-olds who are knocking around the place,” the speaker said. It’s truly amazing how much he wants to play in this Champions Cup after winning the World Cup, as drive is usually the first to disappear.”He is enamored with it. He enjoys playing, being outside, and presumably the time he gets to spend away from his house because he recently had a newborn and needs some downtime. Today he is all smiles and back slaps and high fives, acting like a man ten years younger than he actually is.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button