Eddie Jones backed over Billy Vunipola decision as England prepare for Rugby World Cup

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Eddie Jones was right to include Billy Vunipola in all four of England’s Rugby World Cup warm-up fixtures.

That is the verdict of former Newcastle Falcons star and ex-England international Tom May, who says the Saracens number eight needs as much game time as possible.

Vunipola played the full 80 minutes as England began their Rugby World Cup preparations in earnest by taking on Wales on August 11.

He also finished the reverse fixture on August 17 having been named in the starting line up by Jones.

Vunipola played the full match as England trounced Ireland at Twickenham on August 24, while he featured for just under an hour as Italy were dispatched earlier this month.

Jones’ decision to pile such a workload on Vunipola ahead of the Rugby World Cup has led to criticism of the England coach.

However, two-time England international May says the Aussie was right to lean so heavily on the 26-year-old.

“There is a bit of mind games and bit of history between Connor O’Shea and Eddie Jones,” May told the Racing Post, when asked about England’s chances of securing Rugby World Cup glory.

“I think England are in a pretty good place, and I think the most fortunate thing for Eddie Jones is everyone is fit, aside from Jack Nowell.

“Actually, you see the likes of Billy Vunipola who is so key to England playing well, he’s been fantastic.

“Some people are saying, ‘why play him in the four warm up games?’ He’s a player that needs to be playing to play his best.

“Manu Tuilagi looks in frighteningly good nick. A player like that could come in and make a massive difference to England, where they’ve missed him in the past few years due to injuries.”

England are in Pool C at the Rugby World Cup alongside Argentina, France, Tonga and the USA.

They kick off their campaign in Japan on Sunday when they take on Tonga in Sapporo.

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