Leicester expect Manu Tuilagi to miss final
Leicester are bracing themselves to play the English Premiership final without England prospect Manu Tuilagi after the centre was cited for punching Northampton wing Chris Ashton.
Tuilagi caught England wing Ashton with three punches in quick succession during the Tigers 11-3 playoff semi-final win over their rivals at Welford Road on Saturday.
The Premiership's young player of the year somehow escaped a red card and was, together with Ashton, sent to the sin-bin by Wayne Barnes following his consultation with touch judge Robin Goodliffe.
However, Tuilagi was cited on Tuesday and the midfielder will mark his 20th birthday on Wednesday by attending a Rugby Football Union (RFU) hearing in London chaired by Judge Jeff Blackett, the RFU's disciplinary officer.
Even a minimum suspension is likely to see Tuilagi ruled out of the Premiership final against Saracens at Twickenham on May 28 where the Tigers will be bidding to complete a hat-trick of domestic titles.
"He reacted poorly to something that had happened, he has thrown a punch and you can't do that," said Leicester coach Richard Cockerill.
"I am sure there will be some form of sanction."
"Manu can't react like he did, he knows that. He is a young man, he will pay the penalty and learn his lesson," the former England hooker added.
Cockerill, while accepting Tuilagi would be a loss, said Leicester had plenty of midfield strength in depth.
"Manu is a good player, a quality player, but so are Dan Hipkiss, Matty Smith and Billy Twelvetrees, so there are other things we can do and other players we can pick."
Cockerill meanwhile denied reports he had used abusive language towards referee assessor Brian Campsall on Saturday.
"I want to state categorically that I did not use foul and abusive language and I was not aggressive towards Brian.
"I take great offence in how it was reported...I was not aggressive towards anyone, it was portrayed poorly and it was poor journalism.
"As far as I am concerned I have no case to answer, the allegations are untrue and I find it a little bit wrong that those things can be written and made up in a national newspaper when it is very high profile and I get slagged off and look to be a foul-mouthed yob when that is not the case."
Date published : 18 May 201102:00:19