Incredible to think he has played just once this season, coincidentally against Newcastle at Welford Road back on September 21.
In fact, he’s not played much since getting among the try-scorers in the Aviva Premiership Final at the end of May 2013. His Lions tour was a stop-start affair with injury before earning a Test cap in the deciding encounter in Australia.
From there, he had a short summer, a shorter pre-season, then sat out the opening couple of games before starting against Newcastle. Tigers won 31-6, scoring five tries, though Manu was not among the scorers. Then, with the game won, he stretched out an arm in a tackle in the Tigers 22 and suffered an injury to a pectoral muscle which eventually required surgery.
Now he is fit and, as Cockers warns, ‘raring to go’.
The Tig would not like to be the man who takes the first tackle from a frustrated international powerhouse. But The Tig is certainly delighted to see Manu back. Judging by many of the messages on social media today too, Tigers fans are not alone in looking forward to his happy return. With the England team on the up with a young group of new faces, it seems many supporters of other clubs are keen to see him back and pushing his claims to be a key man on the summer tour to New Zealand and in a brave new era pushing towards the 2015 World Cup.
It’s unlikely opposition defenders are as delighted to see him back on the field.
Good luck Manu. And good luck to the one who gets in his way.