England have been dealt a huge selection blow after centre Manu Tuilagi was ruled out for six months with a torn Achilles tendon.
Sale Sharks player Tuilagi suffered the injury just 12 minutes into his side’s Premiership contest with Northampton and he will now definitely miss England’s final 2020 Guinness Six Nations game with Italy as well as the new Autumn Nations Cup competition, which starts this November.
Not only that, but Tuilagi is also likely to miss next spring’s 2021 Championship.
The news comes as a massive shock for Eddie Jones’ England as they attempt to land a first Guinness Six Nations crown in three years – the 29-year-old having become a key pillar in recent years as one of the main ball-carrying threats.
Tuilagi helped England to the top of the 2020 Championship standings earlier in the year, delivering impressive showings in their Round 3 and 4 victories against Ireland and Wales before he was sent off in the latter.
Having moved from fellow Premiership side Leicester Tigers during the coronavirus-enforced suspension of sport, Tuilagi had made a promising seven starts for his new club but he is now set for surgery next week in the latest injury setback to befall the back.
Despite having made 43 caps for his country, Tuilagi’s career has been dogged by injuries.
He missed a combined total of 21 months of action between 2013 and 2015 due to a torn pectoral muscle and an injured groin.
In 2016 he suffered further groin troubles before being sidelined for nine months after hurting knee ligaments in January 2017.
Jones now faces a selection dilemma ahead of the resumption of the 2020 Championship and his side’s Round 5 fixture in Italy on October 31.
The options which could replace him include the likes of Jonathan Joseph, Joe Marchant and Ollie Devoto while impressive uncapped young Worcester centre Ollie Lawrence could also be considered but England will sorely miss Tuilagi’s power and directness.