Hartley full of praise for Vunipola

Date published: March 10 2017

England captain Dylan Hartley has welcomed the return of Billy Vunipola with open arms ahead of Saturday’s game with Scotland.

Vunipola has been named on England’s bench despite speculation in the week that he was in line for a starting berth, having played 72 minutes on his comeback from a knee injury last weekend for Saracens.

One of England’s vice-captains last season and a World Rugby Player of the Year nominee, England have noticeably missed Vunipola’s impact so far in the Six Nations despite winning their first three games.

Hartley admitted that Vunipola’s return was a boost for England not only on the pitch but also around the camp in the build-up to England’s enormous Calcutta Cup clash.

“Billy’s not just great to have on the training field or in a game, he’s also great to have around,” Hartley said.

“He’s a big personality, a big, happy guy. His standards and his training habits are brilliant.

“For me, as a leader in the team, he’s someone I can talk to, I can use to help me. The way he plays is world class.

“He’s one of our best players and we’re lucky to have someone like him to come off the bench when needed because Nathan is doing a fantastic job for us.

“It’s great to see that we’ve got that sort of depth, that sort of competition in the team.”