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Samuela Vunisa humbled to replace Italy "hero" Sergio Parisse

Published 18/09/2015

Samuela Vunisa replaces the injured Sergio Parisse for Italy
Samuela Vunisa replaces the injured Sergio Parisse for Italy

Samuela Vunisa will draw World Cup inspiration from replacing "hero" and injured Italy captain Sergio Parisse for Saturday's Twickenham clash with France.

Saracens number eight Vunisa has branded his battle with France counterpart Louis Picamoles "David versus Goliath", but the 120kg Fiji-born loose forward is no shrinking violet.

Italy's talismanic loose forward Parisse will miss the Azzurri's Pool D opener after failing to recover in time from a calf haematoma.

Vunisa vowed not to try to emulate Parisse's lynchpin style, instead aiming to impose his bullish ball-carrying on Les Bleus.

"Replacing a hero in the team is a really humbling moment," said Vunisa.

"For me Sergio has really helped me when I first arrived, he's always been there in my first few games.

"I went and worked with him and talked with him and the only thing he says is that we are two different players.

"I am big and scary, he is more of a leader and his presence is always felt.

"We are two different players offering something different. As an islander I am known as a ball-carrier.

"It is always good to have go-forward so the backs can do their show and have their dance.

"For me to contribute to the team, I put my hands up and do it for the team.

"It will be an honour to play against Picamoles, he's one of the best number eights going around.

"It is a big test for me to go up against him, but it is going to be like David versus Goliath."

France boss Philippe Saint-Andre will depart his post after the World Cup, with Toulouse stalwart Guy Noves waiting in the wings.

Former Gloucester and Sale boss Saint-Andre admitted everything since 2011 has been geared towards this tournament.

"I have been waiting for this for four years and we must arrive with a smile on our faces," said Saint-Andre.

"We are concentrating on our game, our strategy, our precision and our discipline. It's just a game of rugby.

"It is important not to put too much pressure on the players.

"They have to be ready in their heads, their guts and their shoes."

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