Eddie Jones has welcomed Manu Tuilagi’s blockbusting club form as the Leicester centre closes in on making his long-awaited Test return.
All 36 members of England’s squad for the Quilter Internationals have been cleared to begin training at their pre-autumn camp on the Algarve on Friday, encouraging Jones following a savage run of injuries, suspension and retirement.
Tuilagi was named man of the match against the Scarlets last weekend as his comeback from a series of injuries that have confined him to making one international appearance in four years gathered momentum.
Tuilagi was excellent against the Scarlets (Mike Egerton/PA)
“Manu is getting back to his best – he’s definitely moving in the right direction,” Jones said.
“The good thing is he is doing the basics brilliantly and that is really important going forward.
“We want him to do the basics brilliantly and if he can keep doing that then we are going to be in a good position.
“When he had the opportunity to run hard and go through gaps he did. He made his tackles and did his clean-out work.
“He’s in good physical condition. His GPS, the measure of his running metrics during the game, was very similar to a Test match.
Tuilagi has been training hard (Aaron Chown/PA)
“We are looking forward to seeing more of that from Manu. He’s certainly not far away.”
England could field their heaviest centre combination since Matt Banahan and Shontayne Hape in 2011 during the looming autumn series against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.
Worcester’s Ben Te’o last weekend made his comeback from the thigh and calf injuries that ruled him out of the summer tour to South Africa and Jones would be willing to pair him alongside Tuilagi in midfield.
“Both he and Manu have come into camp and they look like they’ll compete for spots,” Jones said.
“There’s no reason why they can’t play together. We’ve got good competition there.”