Rugby Union

Melbourne Rebels v British & Irish Lions: Match Preview

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Tuilagi returns for Lions. (©GettyImages)
Tuilagi returns for Lions. (©GettyImages).

Manu Tuilagi has recovered from injury and gets his chance to impress British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland against the Melbourne Rebels today (Tuesday).

The Leicester Tigers centre appeared to be a doubt for the rest of the tour after coming off against the Queensland Reds, but just over two weeks later he starts in the seventh and final ‘warm-up’ game.

"If I'd gone home it would've been the most disappointing thing. The Lions doesn't come around very often, and you've got to take your chances. Thank God, the shoulder healed up pretty quick,” he told reporters.

"The physios and the coaches gave me seven days to make the tests to see if my shoulder had any improvement in power. Luckily, after a couple of days, it came back 20-25%, which was an improvement, and then they just gave me another week. It feels a lot better now."

Tuilagi, who impressed against the Western Force before his injury, is looking to dislodge either Jonathan Davies or Brian O’Driscoll from the team that won the first test 23-21 against Australia on Saturday.

And, if the 22-year-old England star impresses, he could give Gatland a selection headache going into game two.

Geoff Parling has been pulled out of the Lions’ squad to face the Rebels following Paul O’Connell’s arm break, with Dan Lydiate leading the side in the lock’s place.

Rob Kearney, Owen Farrell and Toby Faletau are also in the Lions’ starting XV, and all will be looking to make a case for a place in the squad to face the Wallabies in game two.

One man who will be eagerly watching is Christian Wade, after the Wasps speedster made his debut against the Brumbies a week ago.

The youngster wished his new teammates luck, and admits the game is a big one as preparations continue for the final test matches.

He wrote on Facebook: “Good luck to boys playing in our final midweek game tonight!! Big game for us!!”

Topics:
Manu Tuilagi
British & Irish Lions
Rugby Union
Australia Rugby
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