Manu Tuilagi needs to re-invent himself and stay fit to make the most of the twilight of his career, that is according to World Cup winner Will Greenwood.
Sale Sharks centre Tuilagi, 30, burst onto the international rugby scene for England way back in 2011, with his power and speed carrying him to that year's World Cup and a Test cap count that currently stands at 44.
One of those Test appearances came in a British & Irish Lions shirt during the successful 2013 Tour to Australia, but injury - as so often has been the case during Tuilagi's career - ruled him out of contention for this year's campaign, which started with victory over Japan last weekend.
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Three-time tourist Greenwood believes a fully fit Tuilagi could have provided strong competition to the likes of Robbie Henshaw and Chris Harris in the Lions midfield but urged the former Leicester Tigers man to add further chinks to his armoury to stay at the top level in years to come.
"We know Manu is a powerful man, and he was a pioneer and a ground breaker, a bit like Jonah [Lomu] was," said Greenwood, who was speaking on behalf of Land Rover, an Official Sponsor of the British & Irish Lions.
"The problem is that everyone wants to be like them, and four or five years later there are four or five Jonahs and Manus.
"There are some incredibly physical specimens now and it's got be about combining that physicality with special awareness, and other traits. If he comes back just as Manu, I think the world has adjusted.
"It's a shame he's never really had chance to deliver his best form in a Lions jersey, but the bandwagon moves on unfortunately. The Lions is very much about the collective, and the guys that are in the squad will carry that baton.
"The challenge for Manu now is to redefine himself and come back as a slightly different player with some new skills that will create new challenges for opponents. If he can replicate what Jason Leonard did back in the day, I think we can still see a lot more of him."
Having also been forced out of England's summer Tests with a hamstring injury Tuilagi will now shift his attention to re-gaining full fitness ahead of the new Premiership season, having moved north-west to Sale from boyhood club Leicester in 2020.
The Sharks fell at the semi-final stage of this year's competition after progressing to the play-offs for the first time since 2006, and Greenwood believes head coach Alex Sanderson is ideally placed to get the most out of Tuilagi and the rest of the Sale squad.
Greenwood is helping to connect rugby fans across the country with the British & Irish Lions, with Land Rover having launched a nationwide rugby themed treasure hunt.
Over 900 UK locations have been tagged with a digital Lion, with rugby fans encouraged to visit https://lionsadventure.com/to find their nearest tagged location. To enter the competition, all fans need to do is visit the tagged location, find the digital Lion, and tap them via the Lions Adventure site on their phone.
In doing so, fans will be in with a chance of winning exclusive prizes, that include signed Lion's merchandise and an exclusive screening of the second Lions Test match on the 31st of July.
He added: "Some players spend 20 years at one club, and some go to 12 clubs over that same timeframe. It depends on your psyche and what gets you out of bed in the morning.
"I moved around from Preston Grasshoppers to clubs like Waterloo, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers, and I know the benefits of both scenarios.
"I think Manu tried his very best to do everything he could for Leicester, and towards the end it just didn't quite work out. Sale is now getting the benefits of his ability as an athlete, but also the downside of his disappointing injury record.
"But I think Alex is a good coach and he'll do well for him, and I look forward to keeping an eye on his progress next season."
Join Land Rover on its Lions Adventure and be in with a chance to win exclusive prizes. Visit https://lionsadventure.com/and follow @LandRoverRugby on Twitter
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