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Vunipola wants to fill the void

Billy Vunipola is ready to use the biggest game of Saracens' season so far to prove he is ready to fill the void left in England's back row by Ben Morgan's season-ending broken leg.

Vunipola's form dipped alarmingly in the autumn and after poor displays against New Zealand and South Africa, he lost his place to Morgan who emerged as England's player of the QBE Series.

Gloucester are expected to release a more detailed timeframe for Morgan's rehabilitation on Thursday, but he is a doubt for the World Cup with an injury that enables Vunipola to reclaim the number eight jersey.

Saracens host Munster on Saturday in a Champions Cup pool game they must win if they are to retain hope of qualifying for the knockout phase, offering Vunipola the stage to guarantee that he starts the RBS 6 Nations opener against Wales.

"My form has been all right. I am going a bit better than I have been and there's no better platform than playing Munster to show that," Vunipola said.

"Munster have world-class players and as a team they function well. European competition is great for us as players because you know if you perform at this level you will hopefully get international recognition."

A twist of face saw Vunipola involved in the tackle that brought Morgan's season to an end with the big Gloucester forward crying out in pain before being carried from the pitch on a stretcher.

"I thought at the time it was a serious injury. Ben is a strong player and for someone like him to be shouting out in pain was obviously serious," Vunipola said.

"I had a lot of sympathy for him and his mum, who I talk to quite a lot after England games. I hope he recovers well. He was very good in the autumn.

"Heading into the Six Nations he was the first choice number eight, but injuries happen. I do feel sorry for him as it has happened to me before, but that's how life goes."


From Belfast Telegraph