England: Billy Vunipola’s Grand Final gets him his Test

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

The recall of Billy Vunipola to the England squad might have something to do with the mini-injury crisis at number eight, but form also played a part.

Assuming he takes the field in Australia he will be winning his first cap since the Six Nations in 2021 – his 61st – after which he was, among others, sidelined to make way for some fresher, younger players.

Found his best

But the break has done his club form some good and his display in Saturday’s Premiership Final, even in defeat, had England coach Eddie Jones convinced that Vunipola’s mojo might be back.

Vunipola left the pitch with a concussion, but has been cleared to tour and could make his return in the first Test in Perth next Saturday.

“Billy needed to find his best. He wasn’t at his best in the last Six Nations he played with us, he was a bit up and down,” Jones said.

“I asked him to go away and find his best and I think that consistently for Saracens he has been close to that. In the final he was exceptional, he looked like a Test number eight.

“We’ve been in regular contact. I would go and see him before each selection and have a chat about where he was at.

“I value him highly as a player but he wasn’t at his best. He has found his best now and deserves to be back in the team.”

Other senior players have been less lucky, although in the case of Joe Marler and Elliot Daly it is surely a simple need to rest, while Ben Youngs has been given time off for compassionate reasons after the recent death of his sister-in-law.

The other main talking points of the team have been the recall of scrum-half Danny Care and the eight uncapped players touring, among them the rising star of Henry Arundell.

Arundell and Will Joseph have been designated ‘apprentice players’ for the tour, meaning their game-time might be limited, but Jones said that it was all about gathering the experience for now.

“Henry has a lot to like, but the next step is the big step. To go from a part-time club player to a fully-fledged international is a big step,” Jones said.

“He’s taking good steps towards it, he has a good attitude. He works hard and has been learning from senior players. Luckily he has a guy like Jonny May to learn from, an ultimate professional.”

Jones revealed that he would name his tour captain in the week of the first Test.

READ MORE: Eddie Jones focuses on the positives after Baa-Baas defeat

The article England: Billy Vunipola’s Grand Final gets him his Test appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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