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Lancaster pondering a start for powerful Manu.

ENGLAND interim head coach Stuart Lancaster was encouraged with Manu Tuilagi's performance for Leicester on Sunday and is considering whether to give the controversial centre a starting place in this weekend's RBS 6 Nations clash against Wales.

Tuilagi was one of the few players who performed to their best in a disastrous World Cup campaign for England last autumn but he returned home as one of many players shamed over his disciplinary problems.

The centre was fined on two occasions in New Zealand - firstly for wearing a sponsored gumshield and then for jumping off a ferry in Auckland.

Tuilagi is yet to play for England since the World Cup, thanks mainly to a shattered eye-socket and a hamstring injury.

He has been restricted to just five games for Leicester this season - the latest of which came in their 20-19 win over Saracens at the weekend.

The 20-year-old was recalled to the England squad last week but faces a fight to dislodge Brad Barritt from the XV after he impressed in England's opening two wins of the Six Nations.

Tuilagi may yet start on Saturday though, as his power could prove vital against a powerful Wales back line and Lancaster was pleased with his performance in Sunday's narrow win at Vicarage Road.

"Manu has had such limited game time since the World Cup so it was a good chance for him to get another 80 minutes under his belt," Lancaster said.

"At that level, in that quality of a game, it was just a great opportunity for him to play another game.

"We were pleased for him and how he played.

"He did a lot of things well. I am pleased with the way that it went."

Tuilagi will begin full training with England today after having the day off to recover from Sunday's game, which saw Leicester clinch victory with a last-minute drop goal. As well as the return of Tuilagi, Lancaster also has Courtney Lawes and Toby Flood available after they also missed the opening two games of the competition.

England's interim boss would not confirm whether Tuilagi would start but he did admit having the trio available has breathed new life in to his squad.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Feb 21, 2012
Words:367
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