STATEMENT: Manu Tuilagi responds to England retirement speculation - Ruck

STATEMENT: Manu Tuilagi responds to England retirement speculation

Manu Tuilagi has responded to speculation that England’s Six Nations match against France against Lyon tomorrow could be his last for England.

Reports in the media today has suggested the centre is poised to make his final appearance for England this weekend against France before departing for a French club following the conclusion of the Premiership season.

The Sale Sharks centre neither confirmed or denied that this weekend will be his last game.

“The plan is to get on the pitch on Saturday,” said Tuilagi.

“Every time you get the chance to play for England could be my last game so I have to just make the most of it and enjoy it,”

The formidable centre, set to turn 35 in 2027, would fulfil the requisite three-year stand-down period, rendering him eligible to play for Samoa in the upcoming Rugby World Cup. Interestingly, Tuilagi, whose brother Freddie competed for Samoa in the 1991 World Cup, was named Manusamoa, in homage to the Samoan national team.

Manu Tuilagi of England during the Autumn Nations Match between England and Australia at Twickenham on 13 November 2021. Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK

Additionally, the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, may contemplate representing Tonga, the birthplace of their father, given the new eligibility criteria.

While any decisions regarding national team switches remain speculative, there are indications that five more players could be exploring similar moves.

#1. Ollie Hassell-Collins (Wales)

The Leicester Tigers winger, who was given his debut by Borthwick in 2023, has expressed his willingness to potentially represent Wales in 2026.

Despite earning two caps for England during last year’s Six Nations, the 25-year-old hasn’t been included in Steve Borthwick’s squad since then. Notably, he was absent from England A’s recent triumph over Portugal.

Ahead of this year’s Six Nations, Gatland had mentioned Hassell-Collins several times, especially during the discussion surrounding another dual-qualified winger, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

“I have seen Gatland’s interview,” Hassell-Collins told the Telegraph.

“I’ve got two caps for England, and obviously I’m English. But if I don’t see anything in the next few years then it’s definitely something that I would consider.

“I would qualify [for Wales] the year of the World Cup – that is, if he still wants me. Wales is still part of who I am.

“My grandma was Welsh and I still have family over there. It’s still a part of me – and I’d never turn it down – but for now it’s England for me.”