England setback as centre Tuilagi misses autumn

 
Ross McLean
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Tuilagi lasted just 15 minutes on his return
ENGLAND’S injury problems ahead of the autumn internationals have continued to mount with Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi set to be ruled out after suffering a groin problem.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster names his 33-man elite player squad for the QBE series today, with England’s first match against the All Blacks on Saturday 8 November, and he is already hampered by the loss of several key players, particularly in the pack.

Props Dan Cole, Alex Corbisiero and Mako Vunipola are sidelined, while hooker Tom Youngs, locks Geoff Parling and Ed Slater and flankers Tom Croft and Tom Johnson are also unavailable.

“I’d be very surprised if Manu plays any part in the autumn,” said Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill. “He has had a scan and we’re still waiting for an exact prognosis and timescale but it will certainly be weeks.

“We are working with England to make sure we get the right diagnosis and treatment so that we can get him back on the field as soon as we can.

“Manu is a very powerful athlete and he’s got a very big season with the World Cup at the end of it.

“So I think it’s important we get him 100 per cent fit to make sure his groin is completely right. We know how good he is, we just have to get him fit.”

Tuilagi has been plagued by a groin problem this season and hobbled off 15 minutes into his comeback during Leicester’s European Rugby Champions Cup 25-18 victory over Ulster at Welford Road on Saturday.

“He had three weeks off to get rid of some tightness in his groin, now this is a slightly different injury,” added Cockerill.

“I don’t think it is a recurrence, I think it’s a new injury but clearly it’s related to his groin and there is something that is not right.

“He’s disappointed but that’s sport, you get injured sometimes. He’ll work through it.

“He’s got a good attitude. He wants to play but it’s professional sport. You get injured.”