Tuilagi struck down by groin injury


Published: Saturday 18th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Manu Tuilagi could be a major doubt for England’s autumn Test opener against world champions New Zealand next month after he went off injured early on as Leicester opened their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign with victory over Ulster.

The blockbusting centre left the field after just 15 minutes of the 25-18 win at Welford Road, and Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill confirmed that Tuilagi had suffered a recurrence of groin trouble.

Tuilagi sat out three Aviva Premiership games earlier this season due to a groin injury which could leave him sidelined again, while the All Blacks will arrive at Twickenham in just three weeks’ time.

“It is a recurrence of his groin (injury),” Cockerill said. ” How bad that is I’ve no idea, but clearly it is not great news is it? It is a bit of a concern for everyone.

“I can’t really comment, but you would imagine it is not going to be a one-week (injury).”

England coach Stuart Lancaster is already without the likes of Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola. Tom Youngs and Geoff Parling for the autumn games, when England will look to make a statement under a year out from the Rugby World Cup. After New Zealand, they face South Africa, Samoa and Australia.

Tigers made an early statement in Pool Three – a group that also includes reigning European champions Toulon – by seeing off Ulster with first-half tries from centre Owen Williams, lock Graham Kitchener and fly-half Freddie Burns put Ulster firmly on the back foot.

Ulster, despite Ireland wing Tommy Bowe’s scorching second-half try and a Franco van der Merwe touchdown – plus eight points from the boot of fly-half Paddy Jackson, could never quite get close enough as two Williams penalties and a conversion and one Burns conversion, meant Leicester prevailed.

And it was just what Tigers needed, continuing the recovery process eight days after beating Harlequins following successive Aviva Premiership defeats against Bath, London Irish and Gloucester, and setting them up nicely for next weekend’s trip to Llanelli, where the Scarlets await.

Cockerill added: ” First-half, we were pretty sharp, and second-half we probably kicked the ball too much. I thought we could have scored another try in the first-half, but we will take the win.

“We had to get off to a good start. I thought it was a cracking game, a good physical contest. It’s one game, and it is good to win it. There is a long way to go, so we won’t get too excited.

“I thought we controlled field position in the first-half, we carried the ball well, we looked good physically and we dominated the lineout.

“What is most frustrating was that we had opportunities to kill the game off in the first-half, but I have nothing but praise for the players.

“We have a bucket-load of guys missing, and to beat a good Ulster side is pleasing. We have struggled to get past them in the last couple of years.

“I am happy that we’ve got a good start. Had we lost tonight, it makes it very hard to get out of the pool.

“We need to make sure we win next week (against Scarlets), and we need to beat Toulon here in December, then go to Toulon and give it our best shot.”

Ulster left the east midlands with a losing bonus point, and head coach Neil Doak said: “W e weren’t as accurate as we had hoped in the first-half, and Leicester got a bit of a lead, but the second-half was pretty decent and we got a couple of scores.

“It is a possession game, and if you don’t have the ball, you have to defend quite a bit. They put us under a bit of pressure and capitalised on a couple of our mistakes.

“We talked about the set-piece all week, and if you don’t have possession you are going to be under pressure.”

Published: Saturday 18th October 2014 by The News Editor

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