Manu Tuilagi: ''It's Something Special That Is Happening Here''

England star reveals he played through the pain... and regretted it
11:19, 23 Aug 2019

Few players have attracted as much attention as Manu Tuilagi in recent times, a reflection of his talent and ability to make headlines off the pitch as well as on it.

The Leicester Tigers centre has endured all manner of injury problems during his career but, with the World Cup in Japan coming into clear focus, the stage is set for him to shine with England once again.

When the Red Rose face Ireland in their third warm-up game at Twickenham on Saturday, it will be the first time that Tuilagi has partnered captain Owen Farrell in the centres in a Test match.

Eddie Jones has picked a strong side with Tuilagi's Leicester team-mates Ben Youngs and George Ford in the halves and Tigers wideman Jonny May on the wing.

Bath's Fiji-born Joe Cokanasiga is named on the opposite flank while Elliot Daly starts at full-back in what amounts to a formidable backline.

The forward pack sees Joe Marler makes a first start since coming out of international retirement, with Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler also returning. 

Billy Vunipola starts at number eight while flankers Sam Underhill and Tom Curry are both named in the back row and Maro Itoje and George Kruis are paired together in the second row.

Mako Vunipola has been deemed fit enough for a place on the bench but, as ever, much of the attention will focus on Tuilagi and his destructive attacking threat.

The Samoan-born star this week admitted hiding the early stages of the groin injury that almost ended his career back in 2014. He strapped himself up in secret and played through the pain for five games, keeping the injury from Leicester's physios and coaches.

Tuilagi was applying tape to his groin and pubic bone like a belt until he felt a "loud pop" in a European match against Ulster that left him unable to walk. The 28-year-old powerhouse won just two caps between 2014 and 2019 amid a catalogue of setbacks, and he even sought the services of a witch doctor to help end his injury curse.

"You just think, 'I am never going to get injured', even if it hurts you think, 'I will be alright'; that is a lesson," said Tuilagi. "With my groin, I played five games with it being really painful. It was stupid.

"It was the start of the season in 2014. I pulled my adductor but I had no idea what an adductor felt like if you pulled it.

"I did it on the Thursday, played on the Saturday and strapped it up. I played five games with it and it went higher and higher into my groin.

"At one stage I started strapping my pubis. The physio was like, 'What are you doing?', I said, 'Er, nothing'. I started strapping my pubis, which was just stupid. In the fifth game, I got the ball in the first 20 minutes, went to accelerate and bang, there was a pop, a loud pop and I just couldn't walk.

"I had pretty much dislocated my pubic bone. I guess I wasn't honest with the physios, but also I didn't really know what it was. I didn't tell the physios. I would say, 'It is a bit sore'.

"It got to that point where you are running and trying to just take the pain. With injuries, you have to be honest. That is the best because if you're not honest with the physio they don't know how to treat you. 

"I love being here with England now though, especially with this group of players. It's something special that is happening here and for me, just being part of that is unbelievable."