* Centre will not be considered after pleading guilty to assault
* Lancaster tells him he cannot play until 2016
* Tuilagi apologies for attack on police officer (Adds details, quotes)
By Mitch Phillips
LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) - England centre Manu Tuilagi will not play in this year’s World Cup after being convicted of three charges of assault and one of criminal damage, the Rugby Football Union and his club Leicester said on Friday.
“England coach Stuart Lancaster has spoken to Manu and informed him that, in the light of his conduct and subsequent conviction, he will not be considered for selection for England’s Elite Playing Squads until January 2016,” a joint statement said.
Lancaster, who began his spell in charge by stressing the need for his squad to act as role models, decided not to consider Tuilagi for his World Cup training squad, which is due to be announced next Wednesday.
“As role models and ambassadors for the game, the highest standards of behaviour are expected from every England player both on and off the field,” Lancaster said.
“Having spoken to Manu, he understands and accepts both the seriousness of the offences to which he has pleaded guilty and the consequences of his behaviour to his club, country and the game as a whole.”
Tuilagi said: ”I take full responsibility for my actions and unreservedly apologise to all those involved in the incident, Leicester Tigers and England.
”It is something I deeply regret and I totally accept the sentence given by the court. The club and Stuart have been very supportive and I understand their sanctions too. I know as an England player the need to conduct myself as a good role model for the game.
“I am very disappointed because my actions have let so many people down and I can only hope for a future chance to prove myself again.”
Tuilagi, 23, last played for England against New Zealand in June 2014. He has played only four games for Leicester this season due to a persistent groin injury and has not featured since October.
Although he was seen as a key part of England’s backline, producing a sparkling performance in the victory over the All Blacks in December 2012, it was looking increasingly unlikely that he would get back into the side in time for the World Cup.
The tournament kicks off on Sept. 18 when England take on Fiji. (Editing by Ed Osmond)