Tuilagi ‘will thrive this year’

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Tuilagi has 26 England caps but has not started for the national side since 2014
Leicester v Bath
Venue: Welford Road Date: Sunday, 3 September Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio Bristol, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Manu Tuilagi will “thrive” at Leicester this season despite his latest disciplinary lapse, says Tigers team-mate Ben Youngs.

Tuilagi was sent home from England camp by head coach Eddie Jones after a night out earlier this month.

“It is frustrating, but I know Manu is surrounded by the right people now,” Youngs said.

“He has got himself where he needs to be. He’s back fit and he just wants to play.”

He told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast: “I have no doubt that this year, if he stays fit, all his talking will be done on the rugby field. I’m absolutely confident he will thrive this year.”

Tuilagi has been plagued by injury over the past couple of seasons, and has not started for England since the summer of 2014.

Youngs and Tuilagi were part of Leicester’s Premiership-winning side in 2013

His head coach at Leicester, Matt O’Connor, believes the “mental torture” of injury has contributed to Tuilagi’s disciplinary problems, which include assaulting two female police officers in 2015.

“As a mate and a team-mate and a supporter and a rugby fan, I just want to see him fulfil his potential,” Youngs said.

“We all know that on his day he is an incredible player, some would say the world’s best centre on his day.

“I don’t want to speak for him, but I will always support my team-mates. He has had two and a half years of watching everyone else play well.

“So demons in your head start playing. You have two and a half years of that and you become this myth as such, and that becomes very frustrating.

“Unfortunately, his frustration has come out in other avenues that are not so smart.”

Meanwhile, Youngs says he has no regrets over pulling out of this summer’s British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand to spend time with his family.

Youngs’ sister-in-law Tiffany, wife of brother Tom, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“The whole family has been overwhelmed by the support we received. We are very grateful for that,” Youngs said.

“We had a lovely summer together and managed to do lots and create memories.

“The decision was genuinely very easy for me to make. It was a very simple decision. I have many years of rugby, but what I can’t do is get those times back. It was a decision I’m very glad I made.”

Hear the full interview with Ben Youngs on the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

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