England head coach Eddie Jones has told Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi to lose weight after omitting him from this week’s national team training camp in Brighton.
Tuilagi, 26, remains in contention for England’s Six Nations defence having returned from a knee injury last month, but Jones insists that the match sharpness he still lacks is best gained with the Tigers.
“He still needs to lose a bit of weight. I think those turkeys at Christmas were good. Or maybe the Samoans eat roast pigs – I think he had plenty of that. But he’s moving in the right direction,” said Jones.
“Is he in my plans for the Six Nations? Potentially. He has still got the ability to do things that others cannot do. He is someone we will keep watching very closely.”
Saracens No8 Billy Vunipola could yet feature in the first match of England’s Six Nations defence, in Italy on 4 February, after impressing Jones at the training camp.
“We are really glad to see him back,” he added. “He has got three weeks to go. He will be with his club but he knows he has got to do a little bit extra.
"If he does that and gets through some good game time, there is an opportunity for him to play against Italy.”
Jones also talked up the potential of surprise inclusion Joe Cokanasiga, the 20-year-old London Irish wing.
“Size isn’t everything but to have one big winger is handy and he fits that bill,” he said. “He has got speed, power, he has been a good performer for England U20s.”