England have departed for South Africa this weekend as they take on the Springboks in a three-Test series this month.
Eddie Jones’ side will take on the Springboks on June 9 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg before travelling to Bloemfontein a week later and then finally, Cape Town where Newlands Stadium will host the final fixture.
It looks set to be an intriguing series with both teams desperate to produce form for a variety of reasons. Jones is under pressure from a disappointing Six Nations showing while Rassie Erasmus will be keen to get his tenure off to a positive start by securing a series victory.
One man who will prove crucial to Jones’ plans will be Billy Vunipola. The Saracens No.8 was a major loss to England during the Six Nations and his return is a welcome boost.
Thankfully, Vunipola is back to full-fitness but he almost missed the Premiership final with Saracens when he tweaked his hamstring during the semi-final win over Wasps. Vunipola reveals that in the build-up to that game, he was practising his AFL kicking where he injured himself.
“It was my fault, I was doing AFL kicking and the hammy went tight,” Vunipola admitted to BBC Sport.
“I trained fully the week before against Wasps [in the semi-final] and I felt really good.
“I didn’t tell the coaches that, but when I came off at half-time against Wasps I told them. I was like, ‘sorry guys, I was doing AFL kicking’. I stitched myself up there.
“I had to manage myself a bit better the week after. Now I feel strong again.”
For England’s sake, let’s hope Vunipola sticks to the oval ball he is more familiar with over the next few weeks.