England are ready to risk launching Billy Vunipola through the build-up into the World Cup from the belief he is at his best when playing.
Vunipola is Eddie Jones’ 31-man squad’s only member who will all have begun four Tests this summer after the Saracens number eight was held at Newcastle – live on Sky Sports.
Given his latest profession – like three arms in 2018 – continually sending one of Jones’ most influential players into action in a set of warm-up games can be viewed as a bet.
But forwards coach Steve Borthwick insists that banking as game moments as possible is vital for its 26-year-old as they look to build momentum ahead of the World Cup in Japan.
“Billy absolutely wishes to perform . He is a player who thrives on playing – that is the way you get the most out of him” Borthwick said.
“He loves playing the game and does not want to overlook any. Look at the back row – we’ve had some knocks and bruises. It is all about what is perfect for every player.”
Vunipola’s Saracens team-mate Owen Farrell, who will lead out England at St James’ Park, stocks the view of Borthwick.
“Billy was playing very well and is hoping to keep it going. He loves getting the ball from his hands,” Farrell explained.
“It’s important for him to be playing in the big games in which we’ve been involved over the previous four weeks. He’s got a big smile on his face because of it.”
Vunipola made his own feelings apparent after Ireland had been thrashed 57-15 in Twickenham on August 24.
“I’m more than happy to continue going. After all of my harms and time off from the game, I’m just glad to be playing close to the level I was working at before,” Vunipola said.
“It is all about maintaining on building my fitnesscenter. If I could be fit and strong, I will help the team.”
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