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Billy Vunipola lives up to Champions Cup final rallying cry for Saracens

first_imgBilly Vunipola gave a rousing speech on the eve of Saracens’ Champions Cup final victory, promising to deliver a match-winning performance. He then proceeded to score the decisive try against Leinster.Vunipola sealed a third European crown in four seasons for Saracens and capped a remarkable individual performance, despite being greeted by a chorus of boos on his arrival at the stadium. Champions Cup final: talking points from Saracens’ victory over Leinster Read more Since you’re here… Saracens Share on Pinterest Share via Email Share on WhatsApp Share on Twitter Reuse this content … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Guardian Topics Despite the injury, the England hooker was integral to Saracens’ victory and he revealed how some harsh words from Owen Farrell in the first half – with Itoje in the sin-bin and Saracens trailing 10-0 – inspired their comeback.“Owen said: ‘Right, what are we going to do about this? We can either mope for 10 minutes and cling on, or we can take it to them. You choose.’ We chose to take it to them,” George said. “I can honestly say that’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a rugby field.“We had to fight for everything. We were playing against the second-best team in Europe – it turned out to be the two best teams going at it. We were 10-0 down, but how tough the boys were was inspirational. It just made you want to be better and do more.“The season that we’ve had, the amount of outside negativity that we’ve had – it just goes to show that if we stay tight as a group we can do anything. It’s us versus the world and that’s fine by us. That was the hardest we’ve had to work for a European trophy and that’s why it’s the best feeling.”center_img Asked if playing has allowed him to take his mind off the controversy, Vunipola said: “You could say that. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t reading things that have been said. But I am just grateful to be in this team and that is my job now – to put the team first.”Saracens have a number of other injury concerns as they set about repeating the Champions Cup and Premiership double they won in 2016. Mako Vunipola suffered a hamstring injury and lasted only 30 minutes, while George sustained a blow to the shoulder. Champions Cup Rugby union Read more Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook news Mark McCall ensures Saracens’ dominance is set to run and run The Breakdown: sign up and get our weekly rugby union email. Leinster Share on Messenger The 26-year-old admitted that focusing on producing his best form has been a welcome distraction during the furore surrounding his apparent support for Israel Folau on social media.Maro Itoje revealed his teammate’s rallying cry. “On Friday he spoke about when it’s his turn to show up for the team,” he said. “He told us he was going to show up and he did that in abundance. Billy always steps up in the big games. We have some big game players in our team and he is one – he does it when we need it.”Vunipola was replaced with five minutes remaining on Saturday because of a shoulder injury, but Saracens are hopeful it will not bring an end to his season, with Jamie George heralding him as “the best No 8 in the world”.last_img read more