O'Connor: Tuilagi remorseful and changed man

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 19:13
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REACTION: Troubled centre Manu Tuilagi is aware he messed up at the recent England squad get-together but will be the better man for it, said his Leicester Tigers club coach Matt O'Connor on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old added to his already chequered record off the pitch by being sent home by England head coach Eddie Jones, along with wing Denny Solomona, earlier this month after they allegedly returned the worse for wear from a night out.

However, O'Connor told journalists on Tuesday that Tuilagi - who has not played competitive rugby since January - had returned to his club with a changed attitude and he doubted Jones would take further measures against him. 

"He understands that he made a mistake. He knows he got it wrong," said O'Connor.

"He has come back with a renewed attitude. He understands what the standards are around the England environment.

"It was one of those things. He made a mistake, and retrospectively, he knows he made a mistake. He is moving forward now.

"I would be very surprised if it had further ramifications. Eddie is a smart guy.

"The reality is that Manu made the wrong call, and he has learnt from that, hopefully, and he will be better for it."

Tuilagi had only just been recalled to the England fold, a succession of injuries having prevented him from playing for his country since March 2016.

Since Jones took over in December 2015, he has registered just 17 minutes in an England shirt.

Tuilagi has a long disciplinary record, his misdemeanours including a conviction for assault and a five-week ban for punching England teammate Chris Ashton.

He also had to issue an apology after being caught making 'bunny ears' behind the back of then UK Prime Minister David Cameron during a Downing Street photo-call in 2013.

He also earned opprobrium and a fine for jumping into Auckland Bay after England exited the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

The only light at the end of his tunnel appears to be that he will be fit to play in Leicester's Premiership opener against Bath on September 3.

"He is doing really well," said O'Connor.

"Injury-wise, he is flying, and in a lot better head-space. Hopefully, he will play against Bath in round one."

Agence France-Presse

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