Manu Tuilagi returns to Leicester today all guns blazing – having turned down the chance to sit out the game.
Two months after quitting Welford Road rather than take a hefty pay cut, the England star is back with new club Sale.
“Manu’s relishing the prospect,” Sharks boss Steve Diamond admitted. “I think there might be a bit of sadness, the way it ended for him at Leicester, but I don’t think he has any regrets.
“He has a lot of friends there and he asked if he could keep a low profile ahead of the game. But I gave him the option of playing and he immediately said he wanted to.”
Sale have won three of their last five away in the Premiership to reclaim second spot behind Exeter – but only once since 2008 have they avoided defeat at Leicester.
However, helped by Tuilagi moving camps, the balance of power has shifted north and Tigers have their work cut out to avoid a fifth defeat in six starts.
“I’ve had Manu for six weeks, we’re starting our fifth game and he’s been available for all five,” said Diamond. “In that time he’s made one error.
“I can see why England have him in all the time. He's enormous and he's a handful. If he plays outside centre, you know he has the gas to go on the outside. If he plays inside he is a threat to the back row and midfield defenders.
“He reminds me of Jason Robinson in the way that Jason used to take all the defenders with him and others would run in simple tries.
“If it was football, Manu would have assists many times by just running the right line and making a defender sit on the toilet in front of him.”
Leicester, second bottom of the league and a shadow of their former selves, have yet to turn the corner under new boss Steve Borthwick. At Gloucester last week they shipped 36 points before half-time.
In contrast Sale have beaten top-four rivals Wasps and Bristol on their last two outings.
“I’m lucky, I’ve had a few like Manu,” added Diamond, referring to how the centre has matured after a number of incidents in his early days.
“When they get to their mid to late 20s they're different than when they are 21 or 22 and have the world at their feet, in rugby terms.
“Manu is a dead quiet lad, comes to training, has a brew, goes home. We’ve not had him on a night out yet, mind.”
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