Billy Vunipola challenges South Africa giants to ‘bring it on’ as England’s ‘big blokes’ plan to fight fire with fire in a physical Rugby World Cup final
- England want to match South Africa’s physicality in the Rugby World Cup final
- Billy Vunipola welcomes the challenge and called upon England’s ‘big blokes’
- Vunipola has locked his focus on Saturday’s game – despite his family visiting
Billy Vunipola says England’s big hits will be ‘contagious’ against South Africa in the World Cup final.
The Springboks have talked up their physicality but Vunipola’s response was to-the-point: ‘bring it on’.
The No 8 is one of England’s most powerful weapons and he wants to set the tone in his duel with Duane Vermeulen.
Billy Vunipola is happy to talk up the battle of two physical sides in the Rugby World Cup final
England’s No 8 is preparing for his duel with South Africa’s Duane Vermeulen on Saturday
‘It’s easy to sit here and say we want to be brutal, but you have to back those words up,’ said Vunipola.
‘They are very big people but then again we have a few big blokes on our team. They have already come out and said they want to fight fire with fire and I guess we return it by saying, “Bring it on”.
‘It is a final and it’s one of those things you have to front up to as one of their biggest assets.
‘Big hits are something that you probably can’t measure, but I think the best way to explain it is that it’s quite contagious.
‘It shows everyone it can be done, so everyone else tries to follow in the slip streams of Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Maro Itoje.’
England’s stunning semi-final victory over the All Blacks has made them favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup on Saturday.
Vunipola says England can back their words up after vowing to use their ‘big blokes’ well
Saturday’s final pits the likes of Vermeulen and Tendai Mtawarira against Vunipola, Sam Underhill and their England team-mates
With that comes pressure – and Vunipola says England are determined to prove that their semi-final performance was not just a ‘fluke’.
‘The All Blacks have been the best in the world forever and that physicality has helped them get to that stage,’ said Vunipola.
‘We set out wanting to be the best in the world, and we have to back up what we did last week. It can’t just be a fluke. I think the challenge has been laid out by South Africa – as you saw them taking Japan apart, and Wales, the challenge is going to be up front so we are going to have to be there, both mentally and physically.
‘Our goal was always to be No 1.’
Underhill (right) has helped set the tone at this Rugby World Cup with his big hits
Vunipola’s family from Tonga are flying over for the final – but the No 8 emphasised the importance of focusing on the task at hand.
‘We’re trying to lock in on Saturday and see how we can come out firing,’ said Vunipola.
‘Family support is very important to us but things can also be a distraction.
‘Tickets, giving you pointers on how to play rugby… my auntie is always great for that. She’s trying to tell me how to play No 8 and giving my brother a few pointers as well!’