Jamie George hailed Billy Vunipola as “the best number eight in the world” after he was at his barnstorming best in Saracens’ European Champions Cup final win over Leinster.
Vunipola was booed by Leinster fans before, during and after Sarries dethroned the Irish province by coming from behind to win 20-10 at St James’ Park on Saturday.
It was not the first time the England forward had been targeted after he was warned by the Rugby Football Union following his apparent defence of Australia full-back Israel Folau, who sparked outrage with an Instagram post that said “hell awaits” drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters.
Vunipola capped a magnificent performance in Newcastle with the third and final try of a brutal battle as Sarries were crowned champions of Europe for the third time in four years.
Sarries and England team-mate George said: “He is the best number eight in the world for me at the minute.
“He just seems to be getting better and better with every big game that he plays in. He’s so solid, so reliable and takes everything in his stride.”
Emotion, elation, ecstacy.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) May 13, 2019
The Premiership champions were 10-0 down with props Mako Vunipola and Titi Lamositele off injured and Maro Itoje in the sin bin in the first half.
George revealed that rousing words delivered by Owen Farrell helped Mark McCall’s side get back to 10-10 at the break before they went on to regain the trophy.
The hooker stated: “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.”
He added: “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.”
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