Tuilagi boost for Sale and England with centre set to sign new deal

Manu Tuilagi boost for Sale and England after the powerful centre shuns player exodus and pledges his future to the Sharks… with the 31-year-old set to sign a new deal with the Premiership club

  • Sale centre Tuilagi is set to buck the trend of England stars moving abroad 
  • Willis and Simmonds among the big names who will play in France next season
  • By moving aboard they will be unable to play for England after the World Cup 

Manu Tuilagi is set to buck the trend of England stars moving abroad and sign a new contact with Sale, who hope the commitment of the ‘squadfather’ can ignite a title charge.

England head coach Steve Borthwick has seen Jack Willis, Sam Simmonds, Luke Cowan-Dickie, David Ribbans and Joe Marchant all sign contracts to play in France next season.

Doing so will bring their international careers to an end after this year’s World Cup.

But in good news for both Sale and England, powerful centre Tuilagi is set to stay in the Gallagher Premiership.

Alex Sanderson’s Sharks can seal a home semi-final with victory at Gloucester on Saturday in the knowledge Tuilagi has ‘verbally agreed’ to stay at the Manchester club.

Sale centre Manu Tuilagi is set to buck the trend of England stars moving abroad

England head coach Steve Borthwick will be delighted that Tuilagi plans to stay at Sale

‘He said he wants to stay and we’ve agreed terms,’ Sale director of rugby Sanderson said of Tuilagi.

‘If something was wrong I’d know about it and nothing is wrong. From what I know, right at this second, he’s staying with us for next season. Commercially, he’s a big name.

‘He’s a big part of the message we’re trying to build here. He’s a supercarrier.

‘He is the squadfather. He makes the people around him better players with how he interacts with them and gives them confidence. That is intangible.’

Tuilagi – who has struggled badly with injury in recent seasons – only made one appearance for England in the Six Nations. It came against Ireland on the Championship’s final weekend.

He was not selected for the first two rounds and then missed the next two due to suspension after being sent off against Northampton.

The Sale star remains one of the country’s best talents and looks to have shunned a move away

But, when fit, the 31-year-old is a one-off in English rugby in terms of the raw power he can bring to the midfield of the side he plays in.

Tuilagi has played the full 80 minutes in Sale’s last two matches and Sanderson believes he is getting back to near his best as the season run-in approaches.

‘He had two months with England of forced training and not playing through his ban,’ Sanderson said.

‘He reckons the increased and sustained intensity of training has made him more robust.

‘He feels fitter. He looks fitter. He’s got more touches on the ball. The silver lining of what was a really horrible time for him because he wasn’t playing is that he’s now in the best shape he’s been in for a long time and we’re seeing that going into the end of the season.

‘It is so crucial to get your best players playing their best rugby at this point in the season and that they’re cohesive with it. There is still a high ceiling for this group.’

The 31-year-old has struggled with injury and made only one appearance in the Six Nations

Sale have had an impressive campaign. They face Gloucester on Saturday before hosting Newcastle on the final day of the regular season.

It is likely they will face defending champions Leicester at home in the play-offs. The other last-four clash will involve Saracens and, most probably, one of Northampton or London Irish.

Northampton will get the chance to consolidate fourth spot on Friday night when they travel to Newcastle. Phil Dowson’s Saints must win their last game of the regular season.

Their scheduled bye week is on the campaign’s final day so they will face an anxious wait to see if they’ve secured a play-off berth.

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