Manu Tuilagi. Picture: REUTERS
Manu Tuilagi. Picture: REUTERS

London — Coach Eddie Jones says England are "cautiously optimistic" that Manu Tuilagi will recover from a groin strain in time to face New Zealand on Saturday.

Tuilagi was withdrawn from the bench on the eve of last weekend’s 12-11 victory over SA after sustaining the injury during a training session at the squad’s Portugal camp.

He was set to make his first international appearance since 2016 against the Springboks after recovering from serious groin, knee and hamstring injuries, only for his groin to tighten up.

But it is hoped the Leicester centre will resume full training on Tuesday.

"Manu is back and progressing well. We are cautiously optimistic he will be available for this week’s match," said the England coach.

The outlook on Courtney Lawes’s back injury is similar, with Jones hoping he will be available for Saturday after being ruled out against SA.

Less promising, however, is the ankle problem that forced Tom Curry to depart in the
second half. It now makes him a significant doubt for the second autumn international. If the Sale openside fails to recover, Sam Underhill is likely to take his place in the back row.

"Curry is off to see the doctor so we’ll know more about him after that but we’re sadly pessimistic about his chances," Jones said.