Manu Tuilagi in action for Sale during their Premiership semi-final defeat to Exeter
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Manu Tuilagi has been recalled by Eddie Jones ahead of England’s three summer fixtures.
Following Sale Sharks’ 40-30 loss to Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park, Tuilagi has joined uncapped flanker Ben Curry, hooker Curtis Langdon and loosehead prop Bevan Rodd as part of a 36-man squad.
A Bristol Bears contingent of hooker Will Capon, full-back Max Malins and scrum-half Harry Randall are also included after a 43-36 defeat for their club in the first Premiership play-off on Saturday.
George Furbank and Ollie Sleightholme of Northampton Saints will also compete to face Scotland in an A international on Sunday at Welford Road before an updated group will be named to prepare for Tests against USA (June 4) and Canada (July 10) at Twickenham.
Prolific London Irish wing Ollie Hassell-Collins is among seven players to have dropped out of the initial squad that spent last week at England’s Lensbury training base in Teddington.
Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), Tom Willis (Wasps), Tom de Glanville (Bath), Fraser Dingwall (Northampton), Tom Parton (London Irish) and Ben Spencer (Bath) have also been omitted.
Courtesy of his 43 caps, as well as one Test appearance for the British and Irish Lions, Tuilagi now overtakes Leicester Tigers prop Ellis Genge as the most experienced member of an England squad that still features 22 uncapped players.
The centre’s last international outing came during the 2020 Six Nations against Wales last March before he ruptured his Achilles in action for Sale the following September.
The 30-year-old has only just returned from that latest injury setback, coming off the bench against Bristol last month before starting both of Sale’s losses to Exeter this month.
On Saturday, he was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Exeter back-rower Richard Capstick in the opening five minutes. With that in mind, his involvement could be subject to the citing officer confirming that the offence did not warrant a red card.
Dan Kelly of Leicester Tigers and Max Ojomoh of Bath, both aged 20 and uncapped, are two other midfielders in the squad and Ollie Lawrence, part of England’s 2020 Six Nations campaign, is also involved.
Back-rower Ben Earl and centre Piers O’Conor, both of Bristol, are among the eye-catching omissions made by Jones although both could yet come in for the Tests against USA and Canada.
England squad for summer tour
Reinstating Tuilagi is a curious move which could reduce much-needed game time for young centres
By Charlie Morgan
Manu Tuilagi’s inclusion in this latest training group brings the number of survivors from the Rugby World Cup 2019 squad to just five.
Ellis Genge, Lewis Ludlam, Sam Underhill and Joe Cokanasiga – each of them at different stages of their respective international careers – complete that contingent.
Once again, Jones has wasted no time in reintegrating Tuilagi, his gainline-breaking safety blanket, once the explosive centre has become available.
It is a curious move. Fixtures against Scotland A, Canada and USA would seem an appropriate time to develop other midfield options and Tuilagi is now 30.
Dan Kelly and Max Ojomoh are promising inside centres and you sense that Ollie Lawrence, just a year older than those two at 21, could do with a confidence boost following his slightly fraught Six Nations. Piers O’Conor of Bristol has been left out entirely, for now.
Then again, Jacob Umaga remains the only specialist fly-half, with the versatile Max Malins providing cover. Tuilagi has plenty of experience to pass on, and is certainly fresh given his paucity of game-time this season.
Elsewhere, Ben Spencer is ousted by Harry Randall with Alex Mitchell and Dan Robson retained as part of a scrum-half trio. There is a huge chance here given Ben Youngs is taking a break. Someone could blow the pecking order wide open.
In the back row, Ben Curry and Callum Chick – surely in contention to feature at the base of the scrum against Scotland A – are granted intriguing opportunities to start the summer.