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England star to miss Rugby World Cup after three assault convictions

Manu Tuilagi will be omitted after pleading guilty to four charges at Leicester Magistrates this week.

ENGLAND HAVE CONFIRMED that star centre Manu Tuilagi will not be considered for Rugby World Cup selection after he was convicted of three charges of assault and one of criminal damage.

Keith Earls can't hold Manu Tuilagi as he runs in to score a try Tuilagi has proven a handful for defenders throughout his career. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

The destructive 23-year-old has had a miserable season of injury problems, playing just four times for club side Leicester Tigers, but there had been some hope that Tuilagi would recover fitness in time for the global tournament in September and October.

However, the convictions at Leicester Magistrates this week have led to head coach Stuart Lancaster deciding that Tuilagi will not be considered for England selection until January 2016.

It means the World Cup hosts will be without one of their most devastating attackers, Tuilagi having proven his threat with ball in hand over the course of his 25 caps. The centre last played for England in the summer of 2014.

An official RFU statement said Tuilagi pleaded guilty to all four charges at Leicester Magistrates this week and was ordered to pay the court a total of £6,205 in fines, compensation, charges and costs.

Reports in England suggest the charges against Tuilagi relate to an assault on a police officer.

“I take full responsibility for my actions and unreservedly apologise to all those involved in the incident, Leicester Tigers and England,” said Tuilagi in the RFU statement.

It is something I deeply regret and I totally accept the sentence given by the court. The club and Stuart have been very supportive and I understand their sanctions too.

“I know, as an England player, the need to conduct myself as a good role model for the game. I am very disappointed because my actions have let so many people down and I can only hope for a future chance to prove myself again.”

Head coach Lancaster also explained his decision to omit Tuilagi from World Cup consideration later this year:

“As role models and ambassadors for the game, the highest standards of behaviour are expected from every England player both on and off the field,” said Lancaster.

Tommaso Allan and  Angelo Esposito with Manusamoa Tuilagi Tuilagi missed this year's Six Nations. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“Having spoken to Manu, he understands and accepts both the seriousness of the offences to which he has pleaded guilty and the consequences of his behaviour to his club, country and the game as a whole.

“England will continue to liaise with Leicester Tigers and have every confidence that the club will continue to support Manu in the right way.”

Tuilagi’s head coach at Leicester, Richard Cockerill, added the following to the press release:

“Manu knows and accepts his responsibilities and has received a significant punishment in being excluded from the England squad and the club will also take internal disciplinary action.

While we do not in any way condone his actions in this case, Manu is a young man who has grown up in the public eye and he is a good professional in a top-level environment.

“He always gives his time very generously to supporters, particularly young ones, wherever he goes, and fully understands the role that the fans have played in his career.

“We will continue to work closely with him on his return to full fitness and look forward to his return to the field in due course.”

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Murray Kinsella

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