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Sunday Apr 21, 2019

Vunipola stands by his comments supporting the anti-gay views of Israel Folau

England number eight Billy Vunipola has stood by his social media post which supported the homophobic views of Australian full back Israel Folau.

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Vunipola was awarded man of the match during his side’s 32-16 victory over Munster in the Champions Cup semi-final on Saturday and during a post-match interview, the 26-year-old was probed on the Folau situation.

“I believe in what I believe in,” said Vunipola. “There was never any intention to hurt anyone and I’m just grateful to play and be fit.

“Behind closed doors I’ve felt a lot of love and a lot of kindness. Obviously I’m very grateful to be a part of this team.”

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Vunipola was booed by members of the crowd for the second time in a week when he played on Saturday at the Ricoh Arena and he was even confronted by a Munster fan after the final whistle.

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“It was quite a motivating factor that people were booing me,” Vunipola told the BBC. “I wanted to back up my words and show my team-mates that I did not mean to distract them.

“I’ll probably not be as honest as I have been about things that probably hurt a lot of people. I know that now.

“I’m not going to change the happy-go-lucky person I am. My faith is what got me to this position. It’s something I’ll stick by.

“It’s been awesome having friends supporting me, whether they agree with me or not.”

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