Even on the worst of days Manu Tuilagi never completely gave up hope. “Mentally I always think I will get back to where I was, no matter what,” he murmured on Wednesday, reflecting on the multitude of injuries that, latterly, have ruled him out of England contention. “I always think there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. I always try and play until it is impossible. Otherwise there’s no point being here.”
Inside 24 hours, the Leicester centre’s prayers were already being partially answered. An invitation to England’s mini-training camp in Bristol might be only a preliminary step back on to the representative ladder but at least it is a new beginning. It is almost six years ago that the rampaging man-boy trampled the All Blacks on one of the more rousing Twickenham occasions of modern times. Since November 2012 he has made only six further starts for his adopted country and managed just two international tries.