England and Sale centre Manu Tuilagi opens up on emotional Leicester exit following controversial lockdown pay-cuts.
The powerhouse left Tigers in July, along with Kyle Eastmond, Greg Bateman and Telusa Veainu.
“For me, it’s just a feeling of disappointment about the way things were handled,” revealed Tuilagi, in an exclusive interview with the Mail Online.
“It just didn’t seem right to me. I couldn’t just accept it. That’s why I left and that’s why I’m here.”
He added: “‘I know it all goes back to my brother Freddie’s first game for Leicester and there were 20 years of the Tuilagis there, which is why it was difficult to come to a resolution,
“But you can’t let that connection take away from the fact of what happened, which wasn’t right. I couldn’t stand for it — whether my family had been there 20 years or it was the first year there.
“Before that, I would never have thought I’d play somewhere else. But here we are in Alderley Edge and I’m playing for Sale!’ Earlier this year, in an interview with Sportsmail, England and Leicester prop Ellis Genge spoke about how loyalty had disappeared from rugby and Tuilagi echoes that view, adding: ‘If a club sacks a player, it’s just business, but if a player goes it’s, “Where’s your loyalty?”
“So what Gengey said is spot-on. When your time is up, you’re gone. If they don’t think you’re good enough any more, you’re done, whether you like it or not. That’s just the way it is. It’s brutal, but it’s just life.”
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LIST | 5 England players who could swap nations for 2023 World Cup
Sir Bill Beaumont has hit back in the World Rugby election race and revealed he wants to create a law change that would allow Manu Tuilagi and other England stars to end their Test career playing for other nations.
The former England captain raised the possibility in his re-election manifesto ahead of next month’s contest with former Argentina scrum-half Agustin Pichot.
In it he promises a review of Regulation 8 which covers eligibility to play for national teams “to see how we can support the longevity of players’ international careers”.
Based on this, we’ve looked at some other current England stars who could head to the 2023 Rugby World Cup to represent other nations.
We’ve not included Billy Vunipola, as we think he is likely to be still in the reckoning for England in three years time.
1. Manu Tuilagi (Samoa)
- Current number of caps: 41
- Age at the start of RWC 2023: 32
- Did you know: He was named Manusamoa, after the name of the Samoan national team
The England centre, who was born in Fogapoa and came to the UK at the age of 13, is one of a clutch of Pacific Island players whose eligibility status could change if the restrictions are relaxed. He is the younger brother of Freddie, Henry, Alesana, Anitelea and Sanele Vavae Tuilagi, all of whom are Samoan internationals and also played for Leicester. It would be fantastic for the powerhouse to complete the set.