England’s Billy Vunipola says his side will be ready for the physical onslaught from the Springboks in Saturday’s World Cup final.
In what is likely to be an encounter dominated by hard collisions, Vunipola highlighted the physically imposing Springbok forward pack as the biggest threat to England’s chances of claiming a second World Cup title.
Speaking in the buildup to the rematch of the 2007 final between the two sides, the hard-running eighthman said that England have accepted the Boks’ challenge to match them up front during the decider at Yokohama Stadium.
‘As you saw on Sunday, they are very big people, but then again we have a few big blokes on our team,’ said Vunipola.
‘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 one of those things you have to front up to and one of their biggest assets and something we have been working on. Like Eddie [Jones] has mentioned, they have many different threats and one is their forward pack.’
A key contest within the two forward packs will be clash between Vunipola and opposite number Duane Vermeulen, who played a crucial role during the Boks’ series victory over England in June last year. The Bok eighthman has again been a pillar of strength throughout the tournament and Vunipola is fully aware of how important Vermeulen is for the Bok cause.
‘Like I said, they have some big players on their team, none more so, probably, than their second rowers and Duane [Vermeulen], those guys are great players,’ added Vunipola.
‘If I am up against two or three players then I will probably try and run away from them, and if I am one on one then I will have a dig. But it is what the situation presents.
‘I’ve played against them a few times and he’s got up the last few times so. Personally, I’m going to try my best to win that little battle so to speak, and hopefully that will help the team.
‘I played against him last summer and he was monumental in terms of getting them those two victories. Not just myself, but we’ve got to try and negate the influence of him and everyone else around him, the Pollards [Handre Pollard] and Steph du Toits [Pieter-Steph du Toit] of this world. They’ve got massive threats across the park.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 29, 2019
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images