Manu Tuilagi targets mid-December return after witch doctor visit in Samoa

Manu Tuilagi is targeting a return to rugby from a knee injury in mid-December. Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Manu Tuilagi is earmarking a mid-December return to the field after seeking the expertise of a witch doctor in Samoa to accelerate his recovery from a knee injury.

Tuilagi has endured an injury-plagued few years, having won just one England cap since 2014. He has suffered groin, hamstring and knee injuries in that spell, but has now sought an alternative option to aid recovery from the knock he picked up on the opening weekend of the Aviva Premiership season.

"I went to see the witch doctor [last week] in Samoa to find out if there's a reason why I keep getting injured," Tuilagi told ESPN.

"It took four days for the treatment. I had to take a towel and a Fijian oil so that the witch doctor would have half Samoan and half Fijian. The treatment had to be with Fijian oils.

"She massaged my body for an hour-and-a-half, two hours. I went four days in a row. That protects you.

"I'm feeling good, better than when I went back. I'm looking forward to getting back playing."

Tuilagi's injury originally put his Six Nations in doubt, but he is aiming for a mid-December return. Whenever Tuilagi returns from injury, his England prospects are talked about given his reputation as one of the country's top players, but he has learned the hard way not to look too far ahead.

"I just want to get back playing for my club and go from there," Tuilagi, who was speaking ahead of BT Sport's Rugby Tonight, said.

"I take things day by day, week by week. I always focus on playing for my club.

"There have been times when you doubt yourself, those dark moments where you think will I ever get back? There are people who help me, my family have been great. The family will always be there for me."

Eddie Jones, the England coach, has also been supportive of Tuilagi, though the centre's last act in an England camp was to be sent home for 'team culture issues' back in August after a late night drinking session with Denny Solomona.

But Jones has since said Tuilagi will have another chance to prove his worth and has been keeping in touch with the centre.

"He's [Jones] been checking in, seeing how the injury's going and when I'll be back playing," Tuilagi said.

"He's a good man, always checking in if I'm going well and says 'stick in there, you'll get through it'."

Tuilagi knows he will have to impress for club first before England come calling and Tuilagi is thrilled with the progress Leicester have made under Matt O'Connor.

The Tigers are currently third in the Premiership with a backline featuring Ben Youngs, George Ford, Matt Toomua, Jonny May, Telusa Veainu and Tuilagi.

He rates this as "up there with the best" he has played with and feels they are clicking as a unit as they benefit from the coaching of O'Connor.

"He [O'Connor] has been here before, most of the boys know what he's like and what sort of person he is and coach," Tuilagi said.

"He's one of the best coaches around in terms of his knowledge of the game and the way he delivers his game plan.

"He's very confident when he delivers a game plan and he knows how to use players individually and as a team. That helps us a lot as everyone's different, they have different strengths and he knows how to get them out of you."

A mid-December return would see Tuilagi available for the Leicester Tigers' festive programme which sees them entertain Saracens on Christmas Eve before then travelling to Exeter Chiefs on Dec. 31.

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