England were left anxiously monitoring the fitness of Manu Tuilagi after a groin problem sustained in the 24-17 defeat by France placed his participation for the rest of the Guinness Six Nations in doubt.
Tuilagi limped off 16 minutes into a one-sided showdown in the French capital, robbing Eddie Jones’ men of their most destructive carrier in an alarming development given his history of groin issues.
A particularly troublesome injury threatened his career in 2014 and he also recently sat out three weeks of Leicester’s season until making his comeback the weekend before England began Six Nations preparations.
“Obviously he’s a big gain-line player for us and in those conditions we definitely did miss him, but you’ve got to be good enough to cope with that,” Jones said.
“We’ll just wait and see. Like all of these things, he’ll get the appropriate medical check and we’ll work it out from there.”
England’s next assignment is Saturday’s clash with Scotland in Edinburgh, and Tuilagi is a grave doubt to be involved given the caution taken any time a groin problem surfaces.
Having trailed 24-0 in the third quarter, England were given a fighting chance through two outstanding solo tries conjured out of nothing by Jonny May, but he had also contributed to their dire position.
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The Leicester wing stopped playing to appeal to referee Nigel Owens in the belief the ball had been knocked on by Les Bleus in the build-up to Charles Ollivon’s 20th-minute touchdown.
While he was protesting, France continued and it was a costly error for which May accepts blame, although he thought Owens had blown the whistle inside a noisy Stade de France.
“That’s one of the first things you learn as a kid isn’t it – play to the whistle? And I didn’t, so I’ll own that one,” May said.
“But what I saw is that it hit his hand and then somebody in front of him caught it, and Nigel did go to blow his whistle. But I own that – play to the whistle.”