England happy to be public enemy number one against Fiji - Billy Vunipola

Billy Vunipola says England will be upbeat about facing Fiji in the quarter-finals
Billy Vunipola says England will be upbeat about facing Fiji in the quarter-finals

Billy Vunipola insists England are prepared to embrace the role of "the team everyone loves to hate" as they gear up to face Fiji in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

Vunipola, who is participating in his third Rugby World Cup for England and was part of the team that secured four wins in the pool stages in France, acknowledges that most of the neutral global rugby community will be cheering for Fiji in this matchup.

Despite knowing that many French supporters in the Stade Velodrome will be hoping for a Fiji victory, Vunipola believes that England is accustomed to assuming the role of the unpopular team.

"I would not say Fiji is their second favourite [team], I would say England is their first least favourite team," Vunipola said.

"In terms of being public enemy No 1, we are happy to take that mantle.

"We are seeing a lot of teams being talked up. There's a 'top four' apparently. Apparently there's a top four in international rugby. I didn't know that there was a table.

"We are quietly going about our work and confidently going about our work. Our plan is to play well firstly against Fiji and deal with whatever happens after that after Fiji."

Vunipola missed the opening game of the tournament against Argentina due to a suspension and has been providing impact from the bench since then after being a regular starter under Eddie Jones. Nevertheless, the 30-year-old is happy to contribute in any way he could as England are eyeing to reach the semi-final for the second successive time.

"I'd be lying if I said it was easy but what makes it better is that I know the team is going well and that's the most important thing - that the team is progressing.

"We're in the quarterfinals and that's the most important thing. I could easily be on a flight home having played eighty minutes every week.

"I'd rather be in a team that is winning and is in a quarterfinal and I'm happy to be a part of it."