Injury-plagued centre Manu Tuilagi looks likely to miss England's upcoming Autumn International series after struggling with the recurrence of a long-term groin issue. The 25-year-old scored a try for Leicester in their stunning Aviva Premiership comeback defeat of Gloucester earlier this month. He had only just recovered from a hamstring tear sustained during last season's semi-final loss to Saracens, which forced him to withdraw from Eddie Jones' squad for the successful summer tour to Australia.
However, he was absent for the subsequent defeat to Wasps and a narrow victory at Newcastle and did not play any part again at Welford Road on Sunday (25 September) as Tigers, now fourth in the table, ended old rivals Bath's unbeaten start to life under Todd Blackadder with a comfortable 34-14 win.
Speaking after that satisfying triumph, director of rugby Richard Cockerill revealed that it could be another two months before Tuilagi is able to return to action. England face South Africa at Twickenham on 12 November before taking on Fiji, Argentina and Australia in the following three weeks.
"He has still got a tight groin," Cockerill was quoted as saying by BT Sport. "We are hoping he will be back on the field within six to eight weeks. It's tough, tough for everyone.
"We will support him, and he's working hard. When we get to six to eight weeks, we will see. It might be another three. He is a world-class player. He doesn't want to be injured, we don't want him to be injured. We want him on the field.
"His groin is not right, and we are going to get it right. When it's right he will play. At the moment we are hoping it will be six to eight weeks – if it's not, it's not. He is running and it's nowhere as severe as it was. It's tight, and we want to get rid of that."
Tuilagi has had enormous trouble staying fit over recent years, with that initial groin injury keeping him sidelined for a total of 15 months. His potential return to international duty under Jones for the start of the 2016 Six Nations tournament was delayed by a hamstring strain and a second-half substitute cameo against Wales in March was his first England outing since June 2014 in New Zealand.