Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes could be back for England in Six Nations crunch match with Wales
Eddie Jones’ team revived their title hopes by claiming a bonus-point victory over Italy in Rome that lifted them to second in the table ahead of their showdown with Wales at Twickenham on Saturday week. Adding to their options in selection could be a number of established internationals who have missed the opening two rounds through injury.
Tuilagi’s comeback from a torn hamstring has gathered pace in Sale’s colours and flanker Courtney Lawes could finally complete his recovery from concussion in time to face Wales.
Joe Launchbury’s vast second row experience would be invaluable now that he has proved his fitness for Wasps following a lengthy spell out because of a knee operation and Lewis Ludlam is due back from the rib cartilage damage incurred against Scotland.
“Potentially we’ll have Launchbury, Tuilagi, Lawes and Ludlam, so there are a few that could come back into the squad,” said head coach Jones.
“We’d be hopeful that by the end of next week Courtney will be training fully. He’s making some great progress and the medical staff have done some terrific work with him.
“He’s not far away now and we’re really hopeful he’ll be back in full training and able to play against Wales.”
Of the returnees, it will be Tuilagi that adds the most with England missing his muscular presence in a midfield that has lacked punch.
Henry Slade has performed well at inside centre but is not the hard running option that would bring greater balance and if Tuilagi is given the all clear to resume his international career, the Exeter player is likely to move to 13.
“Just having a power running centre would give us a different option,” said Jones.
“Everything we’re doing now is about trying to create opportunities through finesse and that’s through good running lines and passing.”