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Lancaster's Tuilagi dilemma

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 09:54
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Ben is still in a boot
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England coach Stuart Lancaster will have to decide whether to keep faith with new star Billy Twelvetrees after Manu Tuilagi was declared fit for Sunday's Six Nations clash against Ireland.

With Tuilagi sidelined because of an ankle injury, Twelvetrees was handed his Test debut in Saturday's Six Nations opener against Scotland and he seized the opportunity with an impressive performance in a 38-18 win.

But Tuilagi has been declared fit to return to full training this week, meaning the centre is on course to feature at Lansdowne Road in Dublin this weekend although there is not such positive news about No.8 Ben Morgan and his ankle injury.

"The last message we had about Manu was that he's fit and available to train. He's available for Sunday," Lancaster said.

"Ben is still in a boot. The last prognosis is that he will struggle to be available for the weekend, but I'll know definitely tomorrow."

Lancaster admitted that Tuilagi's availability has left him with a selection dilemma in midfield following Twelvetrees display against the Scots, but he hinted that the Leicester star will start.

Brad Barritt was shifted to outside centre for the Calcutta Cup match to accommodate Twelvetrees, but despite a solid performance could fail to make the 23 for Dublin.

"There are selection decisions across the field and that's one of them. Billy played well and Brad's contribution as always was positive," Lancaster said.

"But Manu brings a unique set of skills and attributes to the game and the team, as we saw in his performance against the All Blacks (last year's record 38-21 win over the world champions).

"Genuinely, I'll wait and see how he trains tomorrow and on Wednesday before I make any decisions on the centre partnership.

"The reason I prefer to announce the team later in the week is that it allows me to look at the players in training and see who's up to speed and who isn't."

AFP

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