SALE SHARKS say Manu Tuilagi is looking 'scarily powerful' and 'strong as a bull' ahead of his anticipated comeback on Friday night.
England and Lions ace Tuilagi has been out for eight months with an achilles injury.
But Sale have been revving-up their wrecking-ball centre to take down the Premiership leaders Bristol Bears in Manchester this week.
And boss Alex Sanderson said: "Manu is in great shape.
"He looks massive. Not out of shape massive, just strong as a bull.
"The lads did some live tackling and he basically gave them bit of a bump, but I had to stop him running because he was just running through them in the live tackling.
"It's really exciting to see. He looked scary out there. Scarily powerful.
"He is up for selection, but with the caveat that this is not something we want to rush, it really isn't.
"Take from that what you will in terms of the minutes he could play if he was selected."
Tuilagi, 30, has suffered from endless injuries throughout his career – from excruciatingly painful groin problems to thigh and pec issues.
So Sanderson, who has yet to pick him since joining the club this year, knows he has to get Tuilagi's return spot on.
He admitted: "I couldn't hold him back if I wanted to – the guy's too strong!
"We haven't held him back, once he hit all his markers, we just let him go – he is bang on trajectory.
"We are just conscious, because he's brilliant – and now fit – of chucking him in at the deep end and overloading him.
"An upper-body injury would be different to lower-body, and he had a lower-body injury so there's an increased time where you have to get more fitness and rugby conditioning into it."
Sale can book their place in the Premiership play-offs and rivals Bears are looking to cement their own top-four credentials by suring-up a likely home semi-final.
And with the Tuilagi effect now back in full force in Sale, Sanderson said of the timing: "It is perfect. . . it's great timing. And he is right for it."
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