Tuilagi named on England bench for Wales showdown

Manu Tuilagi during training with England, yesterday.

Manu Tuilagi during training with England, yesterday.

England plan to unleash Manu Tuilagi in the second half of tomorrow’s RBS 6 Nations title showdown at Twickenham after selecting him on the bench against Wales.

Tuilagi will resume his international career after a 21-month exile when he reinforces the final push against Warren Gatland’s men in a match destined to decide who will be crowned 2016 champions.

The 24-year-old Leicester centre has been sidelined by a serious groin injury and was also suspended by England for last autumn’s World Cup after pleading guilty to assaulting two female police officers during a night out.

“Manu has trained well this week and I’m pleased with what I’ve seen,” head coach Eddie Jones said.

“His selection in the match day squad is based more on potential than his recent performances.”

England have named an unchanged starting XV, but there are four changes to the bench in the promotion of Tuilagi, lock Joe Launchbury, prop Kieran Brookes and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie.

Cowan-Dickie will provide hooking cover for captain Dylan Hartley after Jamie George was ruled out for around two months by a ruptured biceps tendon sustained training.

Brookes, who has made a full recovery from a knee injury, has edged out Paul Hill as the replacement tighthead prop and Launchbury’s return from a hamstring problem displaces Courtney Lawes on the bench.

“We’ve picked our best 23 to get the job done. The squad have prepared well and I’m happy with how things have progressed,” Jones said.

“It was a tight call between Kieran Brookes and Paul Hill, who have pushed each other hard, but Kieran gets the nod for Saturday.

“It is a shame that Jamie George misses out through injury, but it provides a great opportunity for Luke Cowan-Dickie to show what he’s about.”

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