England willing to risk Saracens star Vunipola

PUBLISHED: 16:00 05 September 2019

England’s Billy Vunipola on the way to scoring the first try of their match against Wales (pic Adam Davy/PA)

England's Billy Vunipola on the way to scoring the first try of their match against Wales (pic Adam Davy/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

England are willing to risk starting Saracens' Billy Vunipola throughout the build-up to the World Cup in the belief he is at his most effective when playing regularly.

England's Owen Farrell is tackled by Ireland's Peter O'Mahoney (pic Adam Davy/PA)England's Owen Farrell is tackled by Ireland's Peter O'Mahoney (pic Adam Davy/PA)

Vunipola is the only member of Eddie Jones' 31-man squad who will have started all four Tests this summer after the number eight was retained for Friday night's send-off against Italy in Newcastle.

Given the extensive injury list that has scarred his recent career, continually sending one of Jones' most influential players into action during a series of warm-up games could be viewed as a gamble.

Vunipola and his older brother Mako, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, are the main source of ball-carrying momentum and their fitness is key to English hopes of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy.

Forwards coach Steve Borthwick insists that banking as many match minutes as possible is crucial for the 26-year-old of Tongan heritage, who broke his arm three times in 2018.

"Billy absolutely wants to play. He's a player who thrives on playing - that is how you get the best out of him," Borthwick said.

"He loves playing the game and doesn't want to miss any. Look at the back row - we have had some knocks and bruises. It is about what is right for each player."

Vunipola's Saracens team-mate Owen Farrell, who will lead England out at St James' Park, shares Borthwick's view.

"Billy has been playing really well and is trying to keep it going. He enjoys getting the ball in his hands," Farrell said.

"It's important for him to be playing in the big games in which we have been involved over the last four weeks. He has got a big smile on his face because of it."

Vunipola made his own feelings clear after Ireland had been dismantled at Twickenham on August 24.

You may also want to watch:

"I'm more than happy to keep going. After all my injuries and time away from the game, I'm just glad to be playing at close to the level I was operating at before," he said.

"It is all about keeping on building my fitness. If I can be fit and strong, I can help the team."

Farrell's own presence in the final Test before the squad departs for Japan on Sunday could also be considered risky given the captain, goalkicker, talisman and general is another player England dare not lose.

But in his own mind, there was never any doubt that he should start a second successive match.

"Not at all. I am excited to get back out there and looking forward to what will be a tough test," Farrell added.

"The way the squad has been building is brilliant and the exciting thing is the responsibility of keeping that momentum going."

England have eased concerns over the fitness of Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph after summoning Joe Marchant from outside their World Cup squad to play against Italy.

The Harlequins back was omitted from the 31 selected for the World Cup but, with Slade and Joseph receiving treatment, head coach Jones has opted against exposing Manu Tuilagi to the risk of injury.

Instead, in comes Marchant who has been training with England for much of the summer and has been a part of the second camp in Treviso, north-east Italy.

It was hoped that Slade would make his comeback from a knee problem against Italy, having missed the previous three games of the summer, while Joseph was withdrawn from the rout of Ireland because of a leg muscle issue.

"Henry is doing really well. He was running (on Tuesday)," Borthwick said.

"It's just a case of that next stage, that last stage. He's just not quite ready for this game but he's close.

"Jonathan is also close. He'll be in full training (on Thursday). He's not quite ready for this game. A muscle in his leg has needed some load management."

Latest East London Sports News

Yesterday, 17:07

Orient had to settle for a point against the League Two leaders after conceding an injury-time penalty on Saturday.

Fri, 16:59

Tom Westley led the way with 237 runs in the match as Essex batted out for a draw against Warwickshire in the Specsavers County Championship Division One at Edgbaston.

Fri, 13:00

Jacob Ranson is joined by Dan Bennett and Dave Evans for the East London Football Podcast to discuss West Ham, Leyton Orient and Dagenham & Redbridge.

Fri, 09:00

Leyton Orient face League Two leaders Exeter City in what will be another huge test according to head coach Ross Embleton, writes Jacob Ranson.

Fri, 07:55

Essex batsman Tom Westley was pleased to pass three figures on day three of their County Championship clash at Warwickshire on Thursday.

Thu, 17:50

Warwickshire advanced to the brink of Division One safety after Essex were forced into a dogged rearguard action on the third day of their Specsavers County Championship Division One tussle at Edgbaston.

Thu, 11:00

London Lions have secured the services of centre, Trent Weaver, ahead of the start of the new season.

Thu, 10:30

Virtual tackle body suit gives you the chance to feel the force


It's now just under a month since All Points East took over Victoria Park with two weekends of world-class music and a programme of free community events.

Curated by AEG Presents, All Points East is bringing an impressive line-up of multi-flavoured music to Victoria Park from May 24-26 and May 31-June 2.

Victoria Park - or 'Vicky Park' as the locals know it - has been the setting for many important events over the years.​ Here, we take a look at its unique cultural history.

Newsletter Sign Up

East London Advertiser twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read sport

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Most Read

Latest from the East London Advertiser

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists