Manu Tuilagi set for England swansong in Six Nations finale against France

Manu Tuilagi during a training session at the LNER Community Stadium

Manu Tuilagi is set to make his final appearance for England off the bench against France on Saturday ahead of an expected move overseas at the end of the season.

Tuilagi is yet to play for England during this Six Nations, having returned to the squad before the game against Scotland following a groin injury.

However with England losing Chandler Cunningham-South and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso to injury for the final game of the tournament, depriving Steve Borthwick’s side of two powerful ball-carriers, Tuilagi is now set to come back into the fold.

Telegraph Sport revealed earlier this week that Tuilagi is set to leave Sale Sharks at the end of the season, with the club lining up Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu as his replacement.

Tuilagi, now 32, is expected to take up a contract offer either in France or Japan, guaranteeing a significant payday at the end of his career.

Manu Tuilagi in training for England ahead of their Six Nations clash with France
Manu Tuilagi could make a sensational return to the England squad - Getty Images/Alex Davidson

That move however would bring his time as an England player to an end. If he is selected on the bench against France for his 60th cap, then Tuilagi’s final start for England will have been in last year’s Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa. He has scored 20 tries for England since making his debut in the warm-up match against Wales before the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

England are expected to stick with George Ford at fly-half ahead of Marcus Smith for their Six Nations finale.

Borthwick is ready to keep faith with the side that stunned Ireland with a 23-22 victory at Twickenham last Saturday, with Elliot Daly replacing Feyi-Waboso in the only change to the back line after the 21-year-old Exeter Chiefs wing was ruled out of the contest with concussion.‌

Smith had stolen the headlines when his drop-goal clinched a stunning last-minute win over Andy Farrell’s Grand Slam-chasing side as part of an impressive cameo from the bench.‌

But while Ford had an off-day with his place-kicking, missing three attempts at goal, his passing acumen was key to unleashing England’s best attacking display since their victory over New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final in 2019 as they outscored Ireland three tries to two.‌

The Sale Sharks fly-half has also started every game of the championship, with Smith only returning to the match-day squad having recovered from a calf injury sustained during a training session in the pre-tournament training camp in Girona in Spain.‌

Smith had been due to be installed as England’s first choice 10 before the injury but is expected to be asked to play another key role off the bench along, as they bid to win their fourth match in the Six Nations for the first time since they won the championship in 2020.

Borthwick has been keen to install a framework in the England squad that rewards those who are not afraid to take chances within the system and is determined to move away from the chop and change selection policy that undermined the final years of Eddie Jones’ tenure.‌

Victory for England would keep outside hopes of winning the title. Ireland will be crowned champions if they manage to secure a bonus point in their final match against Scotland in Dublin.

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