Manu Tuilagi believes he has been exorcised of an injury curse caused by three evil ghouls after visiting a witch doctor in Samoa.
Tuilagi visited the nation of his birth last week upon the advice of his mum who suggested seeing the spiritual healer after serious groin, hamstring and knee injuries haunted the last three years of his career for England and Leicester.
From Monday to Thursday he made the hour-long boat ride from Samoa’s mainland to the island of Upolu where the potentially deadly female spirits were banished by balming him with Fijian oil.
“I saw the witch doctor for two hours a day, and she said she found what the illness was,” the British and Irish Lions centre said on behalf of BT Sport Rugby Tonight.
“She massaged my whole body – all I needed was a towel and a Fijian oil.
“She was half Fijian and half Samoan and found out that there were three lady spirits who had married themselves on to me for the last three years.
“The witch doctor told me that was why I had been injured. The spirits wanted me for themselves – they wanted to punish me and to injure me was the way to do it. Every time I played – bang!
“Now they have gone – the whole body massages have blocked the spirits from me.
“They can’t see me and find me now – but maybe when it comes out in this newspaper they will know again?!
“This is the first time I have done it and I hope to be back playing in mid-December. Now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Tuilgai visited Samoa with the blessing of Leicester director of rugby Matt O’Connor and club physio Ed Hollis and had to be accompanied by his brother Alessana at all times throughout the healing process.
“Hopefully when I come back and play for a long period of time, they’ll have to sack all the physios!” Tuilagi said.
“I was always with my brother Alex. The conditions of the treatment meant I wasn’t able to go anywhere on my own.
“I wasn’t allowed to sleep in the room by myself so me and Alex set up a little camp in the living room in front of the TV.
“In most of these cases back home, the girls end up taking their victims alive and will never be seen.
“There are male spirits too, but the witch doctor said I was too handsome!”
Tuilagi had endured a troubled time during the repeated injury setbacks, reaching a peak when he was sent home from an England camp in August by Eddie Jones following a late night drinking session with Denny Solomana.
“Eddie has been okay with me. He was disappointed but we talked and I explained my reasons and he understood,” he said.
“Mentally, it was a factor. It was frustration at not being able to do what I wanted to do on the training pitch and that came into it. But there is no excuse for it, it’s unacceptable.
“We just stayed out a bit later than everyone else. That’s it. It’s unacceptable. I was in bed by 4am though. Whatever has happened has happened, it’s gone and I will move forward.”