Manu Tuilagi faces an uncertain international future after being sent home in disgrace by England for returning to the team hotel drunk at 4.30am on Monday morning.
Press Association Sport understands Tuilagi and team-mate Denny Solomona attended a squad dinner and having arrived back at the venue of the three-day training camp in Teddington, London, they headed out together for a second time.
The ensuing drinking session ended shortly before dawn and upon hearing of an infraction described in a Rugby Football Union statement as “team culture issues”, Eddie Jones immediately banished the Leicester centre and Sale wing to their clubs, forcing them to miss Monday’s full-contact session.
England’s head coach is to decide whether additional disciplinary action is required and is understood to have been angered by their conduct in the first incident of off-field misbehaviour since he took charge in December 2015.
Although there is no curfew in place nor established rules for drinking alcohol, the duo are considered to have acted inappropriately in an episode that casts shadows over their Test prospects.
“It’s something that Eddie has dealt with. They’ve breached the code of conduct that the players try and live by,” scrum-half Danny Care said. “It shows that no one is above the law. That’s the way it has been since Eddie has taken over.
“He knows the strength in depth there is in the country at the moment and the number of players he can pick from, so you don’t want to make many mistakes because you never know what’s going to happen.
“There’s a code of conduct we’re all signed up for and if you choose to bend the rules or break them, you know the coach will make a decision. As players it’s about making the right decisions at the right time. We’re given a lot of licence by the coaches to make the right decisions.
“People know what is right and wrong and what to do at the right time and whatever happened last night [Sunday] wasn’t the right time.”
Jones, who names his next training squad on September 22 with autumn international series against Argentina, Australia and Samoa looming large, will feel especially aggrieved by Tuilagi’s lapse in judgement.
He strongly endorsed the powerful 26-year-old when explaining the reason behind his recall to a 37-man squad as a step towards reclaiming his England place following four injury-blighted years.
He has played only 17 minutes of Test rugby since Jones took charge in December 2015 and his last start at Twickenham was over over four years ago because of serious knee and groin problems.
Jones cited the manner in which Tuilagi “demolished” New Zealand in a 38-21 victory in 2012 as the reason for continuing to invest time in a player who has spent so much time in rehabilitation.
“We’re confident he’s moving in the right direction, but he’s still a hell of a long way away from playing Test rugby,” Jones said on Friday. “He was a player that demolished New Zealand and we need those kinds of players.
“If he can get himself fit he can definitely make a strong return. If his motivation and desire are right, he can be an outstanding player for us.”
However Tuilagi, who was expected to be fit for the start of Leicester’s Aviva Premiership campaign, has suffered another self-inflicted setback in a career full of controversy.
Tuilagi is no stranger to disciplinary issues and owns a lengthy charge sheet including a conviction for assault, a five-week ban for punching England team-mate Chris Ashton and making bunny ears behind the back of former Prime Minister David Cameron.
Solomona also faces an anxious few weeks to see if the incident has placed a question mark over his international aspirations.
The prolific rugby league wing made a promising Test debut against Argentina in June, his defensive frailties offset by a scorching solo try, and won a second cap a week later but he may now have fallen further down a pecking order that includes a number of in-form wings.
“Denny Solomona and Manu Tuilagi have been sent home today from England’s training camp following team culture issues. We will not be commenting further,” an RFU statement read.
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Care: Tuilagi, Solomona exit shows no one is above the law
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