Manu Tuilagi will link up with the England squad tomorrow before returning to play for Leicester Tigers next weekend, according to the club’s director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

Tuilagi, 24, proved his fitness in a troubled season with a fine performance in Leicester’s seven-try demolition of Aviva Premiership bottom club London Irish, the 47-20 win in front of a 23,173 crowd lifting them to fourth.

He will play for Leicester in their crucial home game against second-placed Exeter next Sunday after two days with England but Cockerill refused to say whether he was ready to play against Wales at Twickenham on March 12.

“We will have to see,” he said. “They have all the power so there is no point in having an argument. If Eddie [Jones] wants to play him he will play him. That’s the agreement, he is in the EPS.


“I’m not stupid enough to have a fight I can’t win, but England are playing well so there’s no need to pick him.”

Cockerill thinks the best position for Tuilagi with England is inside centre. Tuilagi, who has made just four starts for Leicester after groin and hamstring injuries, played there against London Irish, with South Africa’s World Cup winner Jean de Villiers outside him on his home debut.

Cockerill said: “Twelve or 13 is irrelevant. For us de Villiers will do certain parts of that job at 12 and 13. I think they will pick Manu at 12 as and when. They have got really good options at 13 with Jonathan Joseph and Elliot Daly.

“A really good fit would be Manu at 12 making holes. People will defend Manu and there will space for Joseph or Daly on the outside.”