England center Tuilagi given final warning by Jones
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manu Tuilagi was warned by England rugby coach Eddie Jones on Tuesday that he is on his last chance with the national team after being sent home from a preseason training camp last month for ”team culture issues.”
In the latest off-field transgression to mar his rugby career, Tuilagi was thrown out of the squad for reportedly breaking a team curfew with winger Denny Solomona.
It is the center’s first breach discipline since Jones took charge in late 2015, and the Australian coach will not accept any more.
”Everyone talks about previous records but he’s only done it once with me,” said Jones, speaking on the sidelines of the SoccerEx global convention in Manchester. ”If he does it again, then he might be spending a lot more time in the Midlands (with his club Leicester).”
Jones has had a face-to-face meeting with Tuilagi in Leicester since the incident on Aug. 6 and plans to meet with Solomona, too.
”We will just assess them over the next period of time and if they’re eligible for selection … and if their attitude is right, then we will pick them,” Jones said. ”If they’re not, then we won’t pick them.
”These things happen. It’s a poor choice. They understand they made a poor choice, the team understand they made a poor choice.”
In calling up Tuilagi for the first time since 2016 for the recent three-day camp, Jones described the center as the only England player capable of ”demolishing the All Blacks” and someone who is ”worth time, worth effort and worth a lot of care.”
Tuilagi’s most high-profile indiscretion came when in 2015 when he was left out of the Rugby World Cup that year for assaulting two police officers and a taxi driver.
There is another England camp in late September before Jones picks his squad for the November tests on Oct. 26.
Dylan Hartley will head to that get-together still as England’s captain, even though the hooker is coming under increasing pressure for his place by Jamie George. While Hartley wasn’t selected for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in June and July, George was the starting hooker in all three matches in the test series.
Hartley was a contentious choice as captain, because of his own checkered disciplinary record, but it has proved to be an inspired one. Under Hartley, England won 18 straight games and its only loss in 21 matches came against Ireland in March.
”I remember when we named Dylan Hartley as captain, the RFU got a stack of letters,” Jones said. ”One of the prominent public schools threatened to pull out of rugby, because they thought how can you put this lunatic in charge of the national team.
”He is a lunatic, but a nice lunatic. Nice lunatics are good to run the team.”
As for Hartley’s chances of still being captain for the autumn tests, Jones said: ”We have a camp coming up and all things being equal he’ll be captain then. But it’s literally a series-by-series appointment. He knows that, he understands that.”
Steve Douglas is www.twitter.com/sdouglas80