April 18, 2021

Diamond: Tuilagi will terrorise opposition No 10s

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“He is exceptional. I’ve waited a long time to have people like Manu Tuilagi at the club.”

By Tony Tighe

Last Updated: 06/08/20 7:00pm

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Steve Diamond says Manu Tuilagi has been exceptional during his short time at the club and has a warning for opposition fly-halves

Steve Diamond says Manu Tuilagi has been exceptional during his short time at the club and has a warning for opposition fly-halves

Steve Diamond has backed new recruit Manu Tuilagi to hit the ground running when the Premiership season resumes.

Tuilagi joined Sale Sharks from Leicester last month and director of rugby Diamond has been blown away by the 29-year-old’s professionalism in training.

The England centre is set to make his debut when second-placed Sale visit Harlequins on August 14 and Diamond is debating whether to play him at 12 or 13.

“We can play him at either I think,” Diamond told Sky Sports News.

“He has settled in very well and has trained every session. We’re managing his lower limbs because he has had a couple of groin injuries.

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Tuilagi says he consulted England head coach Eddie Jones before deciding to join Sale

Tuilagi says he consulted England head coach Eddie Jones before deciding to join Sale

“He is exceptional. I’ve waited a long time to have people like Manu Tuilagi at the club, who don’t make any mistakes in training and are so difficult to tackle it takes three men. And he’s humble and understands the players.

“We play a simple game with Paul Deacon coaching the backs. That’s not being derogatory to him but we play a very simple, effective style of running lines. Manu has picked that up straight away.

“You wouldn’t want to be a No 10 playing against us.”

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Diamond expects changes at the top of the Premiership table once the season resumes

Diamond expects changes at the top of the Premiership table once the season resumes

Diamond is targeting five wins from Sale’s five remaining home games, along with another couple on the road, as they bid for a first Premiership title since 2006.

They have recruited a host of international big-hitters in recent seasons, from Tuilagi to World Cup winners Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager, and Diamond expects some of his players to be on opposing sides when the British and Irish Lions take on South Africa next summer.

However, he says they are focused on the ‘400m sprint’ of the next four weeks rather than next season’s ‘marathon’.

Sale sit second in the Premiership, five points behind leaders Exeter Sale sit second in the Premiership, five points behind leaders Exeter

Sale sit second in the Premiership, five points behind leaders Exeter

“We’ve got two packs of forwards and two backlines now,” he said.

“We need a fair wind behind us and for form teams like Exeter to not play as well as they can do. Who knows where we can end up?

“There are five or six teams in it for the top four. I think the top four right now is telling lies. I don’t think that’ll be the top four at the end of the (regular) season.

“There is a lot to go in the next nine weeks. Who deals with the rest and recovery best will see it through.”