Manu Tuilagi’s return from achilles injury delayed AGAIN because of Covid self-isolation… after England centre was identified as a close contact of a coach who tested positive, forcing him to miss Sale’s clash against Harlequins

  • Manu Tuilagi’s return from injury has been delayed due to Covid self-isolation 
  • Tuilagi, 30, was identified as a close contact of a coach who tested positive
  • The England centre was due to start for Sale against Harlequins on Friday 
  • Tuilagi has not played since September when he picked up an achilles injury 

Manu Tuilagi’s horrendous bad luck continued as he was forced out of Friday night’s 45-12 win over Harlequins at the AJ Bell Stadium having come into contact with a coach who tested positive for Covid-19.

The England centre, 30, was set to make his first start since September having recovered from yet another injury, this time to his achilles.

But now he is self-isolating after it was discovered he was a close contact of a staff member at Sale who has caught the virus.

Manu Tuilagi's return from injury has been delayed because of Covid-19 self-isolation protocol

Manu Tuilagi’s return from injury has been delayed because of Covid-19 self-isolation protocol

The England centre was identified as a close contact of a coach who tested positive for Covid

The England centre was identified as a close contact of a coach who tested positive for Covid

Despite his absence, the Sharks were ruthless as they romped to a ninth straight win. They dominated physically and punished numerous opposition penalties.

The handsome seven-try bonus-point win saw them leapfrog Quins to go second in the Premiership table — with their hopes of a second-place finish still very much alive ahead of next weekend’s match against Exeter at Sandy Park.

Martin Landajo put Quins ahead but Sale hit back through Akker van der Merwe, Marland Yarde, Byron McGuigan and Cameron Neild for a 26-7 half-time lead.

With Faf de Klerk sin-binned, Sale added to their tally through Rohan Janse van Rensburg and then Bevan Rodd. Will Edwards put Quins into double figures and Jean-Luc du Preez completed the rout.

Tuilagi (right) has not played any rugby since picking up an achilles injury last September

Tuilagi (right) has not played any rugby since picking up an achilles injury last September 

As for Tuilagi — who played 33 minutes as a substitute in the 22-12 win against Bristol last Friday — a routine round of lateral flow tests produced one positive.

The infected staff member was once again positive after a subsequent PCR test — and on investigation it was found that Tuilagi had been in close contact with them.

Although Tuilagi has not tested positive himself the Sharks therefore replaced him for the home game with South African Rob du Preez.

Tuilagi was hoping to prove his worth not just for an England recall for summer Tests against USA and Canada, but in case the Lions need back-ups on their tour of South Africa in case of injuries.

He was the only player to be knocked out of the match by this sole positive test, with all results among the players coming back negative.

Sale will now arrange more tests over the weekend, hoping that their star centre can feature in the final game of the season away to Exeter next Saturday and then in the playoff semi final.

The Sharks have booked their place in the last four for the first time since 2006 this campaign so will be desperate to have Tuilagi back for their title push.

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