Tuilagi comeback delights Cockerill

F1 British Grand Prix – Valtteri Bottas pole position lap

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill has hailed the return to fitness of Manu Tuilagi, admitting “it is great to have him back”.

Tuilagi made his long-awaited return to rugby in Saturday’s Premiership derby showdown against Northampton Saints after a groin injury.

The Leicester Tigers centre, whose last appearance was against Ulster in the Champions Cup in October 2014, was used as a replacement for the last 25 minutes of a dramatic 30-27 victory over their local rivals.

Even in such an eventful game, with Tigers taking an early 21-point lead but then being pegged back at 27-27 before Freddie Burns kicked the winning score in the last action of the match, the capacity 25,849 crowd reserved one of its biggest cheers for the arrival of Tuilagi.

“It has been a long time,” Cockerill told the club website about the England international’s return.

“Manu has worked really hard and it is great to have him back.

“You saw with the tackle he made to stop Courtney Lawes scoring under the sticks that he was fully committed, there were no second thoughts about the injury.

“He has been desperate to play,” he added. “It has been very frustrating for him and it’s great to see him back out on the pitch. Hopefully there will be no reaction and next week he can get more gametime and we’ll build his match fitness gradually. We need to get him fully fit and make sure he is at 100 per cent.”