Manu must focus on the wing, says former British Lion Ugo Monye

FORMER British Lion Ugo Monye insists Leicester wrecking ball Manu Tuilagi must turn his attentions to the wing positions for England or risk missing out on a starting spot at next summer’s World Cup.

Tuilagi has suffered an injury-plagued campaign for Leicester since returning from last summer’s Lions tour to Australia, missing England’s autumn internationals and the first four games of this year’s Six Nations.

During his international absence Northampton’s Luther Burrell and Gloucester’s Billy Twelvetrees have formed a formidable centre pairing – and Harlequin Monye believes Tuilagi is now No.3 in England boss Stuart Lancaster’s pecking order.

“I think with the partnership of Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees in the centres for England, if I was Stuart Lancaster I would have Manu on the wing now,” said Monye.

“Just give him a roaming role and I think he could be exceptional on the wing. He is a dangerous player who attracts so much attention in defence.

“You’re a year and a half out from the World Cup and you have a look at it. Billy and Luther seem so settled there and they work really well so I think it would be a tough call to drop one of those guys for Manu.

“But Manu is too big a character and too big a player not to have in your team. You have got to factor in to get all the best players on the pitch but also all in the right position.”

While Lancaster is considering switching Tuilagi to the wing, Monye admits his lack of game-time and experience in the wide areas could leave the Leicester man short for the World Cup.

Although convinced Tuilagi has the raw ingredients to make a success of the wing positions, Monye has called on the Leicester powerhouse to make his mark on this summer’s tour to New Zealand.

“When I look at the England back line I think the wing is the one position where Stuart Lancaster in not 100 per cent sure of his combination,” added Monye.

“A tour to New Zealand would be a great opportunity for Manu to make his mark and show he has the class to play on the wing for England – I’m not a coach and that’s why he may never play there, but we’ll see what happens – I know he would be a real success.

“I couldn’t see Manu playing on the wing at Leicester currently – he’s too important in the midfield.

“I think they have got some really good wingers as well – Miles Benjamin, Adam Thompstone, Blaine Scully – and his partnership with Anthony Allen in the centre is just fantastic.

“I think in New Zealand we might see another winger who will stand out more than any of them and put his hand up for next summer’s World Cup – I hope its Manu.”

Ben Foden was speaking at the launch of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Policy. Sign up for exclusive access to interviews and competitions at

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