Eddie Jones has vowed to treat Billy Vunipola like royalty in order to get him to the World Cup in one piece.
The luckless England star is still coming to terms with breaking an arm for the third time in 10 months.
His wretched run of misfortune has sparked fears that the country’s most influential forward might not even make it to the World Cup.
But Jones pledged to do his bit to get him to Japan intact, promising: “I only have him for nine weeks between now and July but, in that time, we will look after him like he is the king’s baby.”
Vunipola has managed just three Test starts in two years and missed the entire Lions tour when last the sporting world turned its gaze on rugby.
The 25-year-old faces another three months out while his left arm mends, taking him through to the Six Nations Championship.
“Billy has strong beliefs and he will get through,” said Jones. “I cannot control what he does at Sarries but they look after their players well. We trust them to do a great job.”
With Billy’s prop star brother Mako also out of the four-Test autumn campaign, Jones admits England will have to change their playing style.
“You don’t replace those two, they’re special players,” Jones admitted. “We are going to have to change things around.
“I feel more sorry for the players because you couldn’t coach two nicer boys and Billy’s had a nightmare run.
“You could see he was just starting to get back and now he’s had another setback and he’s got to fight through it again.”
Jones, who is the subject of a film being made about his Japan team’s ‘miracle’ win over South Africa at the last World Cup, is pinning his hope on Chris Ashton helping England cause a stir at the next one.
“It’s a no brainer to have him in the squad,” said the Australian of a player who marked his competitive debut for Sale yesterday with a hat-trick against Connacht.
“He’s a try scorer, he’s a brilliant support player and he’s hungry,” Jones added. “Apart from Owen Farrell, I don’t think I’ve seen a hungrier player for England.
“The fact he’s turned down whatever he was getting paid in Toulon because he wants to play at the World Cup is a great example.”
Source: Read Full Article