Manu Tuilagi has one last training session to prove his fitness for England’s final Quilter International against Australia at Twickenham.
Tuilagi was expected to be ruled out of Saturday’s climax to the autumn by the groin strain that has prevented him from playing this month, only to be retained in a 26-man squad that is making final preparations to face the Wallabies.
Eddie Jones names his team at lunchtime on Thursday and will assess Tuilagi’s availability after Wednesday afternoon’s make-or-break session.
The England head coach stated on Monday that Leicester’s powerhouse centre was “very doubtful”, but in a surprise twist to his long-running fitness saga, he could participate against Australia.
“We need to find out where he’s at and whether he’s a 100 per cent,” defence coach John Mitchell said.
“We expect him to train this afternoon, but like all players we intend to have restricted training activities based on their individual needs.”
Tuilagi was primed to make his first England appearance for two years in the autumn opener against South Africa, only to be withdrawn from the bench when his groin tightened up in training.
Jones has been cautious over his fitness ever since, mindful of the long run of groin, knee, hamstring and pectoral injuries that have blighted his career.
Australia’s visit to Twickenham brings down the curtain on a to-date successful autumn and Mitchell, who was England forwards coach from 1997 to 2000, is looking forward to the climax to the series.
“I go back to my past with England and the Wallabies was always a massive game and very important,” former New Zealand boss Mitchell said.
“Having also experienced the fixture as an All Black, it’s a contest that you’ve always got to be very, very smart in your preparation as they will come with something.
“They will certainly have an attacking mindset and they’ll be very settled on the basis that it’s the end of their season.
“They’ve played a style of rugby that is extremely entertaining and involves everyone, but at times it has not bought them reward. We need to be mindful that they enjoy building pressure with the ball.
“Australia always test you with running threats, they possess good aerial players as well and as you can see in the autumn that’s been a big area of contest in the games."
“They’ve got some very attacking footballers and then you’ve got the threat of David Pocock, who’s well known around the world as someone who steals possession at the ruck, or stops your momentum in vital parts of the field.
“He’s a constant thorn we’ll have to be mindful of in our attacking breakdown.”