BILLY VUNIPOLA dragged his England teammates out of “fairyland” by reminding them they must beat Australia today to avoid more World Cup embarrassment.
Vunipola and co didn’t even get out of their group four years ago and are playing their first quarter-final since 2011.
The have smashed the Wallabies six times in as many games under Eddie Jones.
But defeat would spell the end of his time in the Twickenham hot-seat as RFU bosses say they will rip up his £750,000-a-year contract if he fails to make the last four.
And brutally honest Billy said: “I said it as a joke and I think I shocked a few of the boys.
“I said: ‘Lads, this could be our last session’. I had a few stares and they just all laughed it off, but I was, like: ‘I am being serious, if we don’t turn up, we are going home’.
“It is always nice to remind yourself, you don’t want to live in fairyland, because you get to Sunday and it’s done, and that’s when the excuses come up.
“But if you just take it head on, we have talked about it already, made sure we know what the consequences are.
“We also know if we can keep playing the way we have been playing, but just that little bit better, we will be in a good place.
“Obviously there will be nerves and when you have those nerves it probably focuses the mind a little bit more.
“We probably haven’t played to the level we can do, but we did that in the Six Nations and we lost in Wales so we want to keep building. We have to take care of our business on Saturday first.”
Vunipola is fit to start at no.8 after limping off against Argentina and Jones will hope the 20-stone wrecking-ball can find his ‘A-game’ against the Wallabies.
Jones fired his squad up by comparing them to Japan’s medieval Samurai soldiers who fought until the death.
And scrum-half Ben Youngs is buying into the Samurai spirit to stick the knife into the Wallabies who had their worst season since 1958 last year – winning just four of 13 Tests.
Youngs, playing in his third tournament and second quarterfinal since 2007, said: “It goes without saying that for everyone who is involved in the quarter-finals, all this preparation, we have been in camp since June, you aren’t going to go out there and accept things not going your way.
“You are going to fight right until the end. We have some boys in this team who don’t know when they are beaten and I’m sure, it goes without saying for any team participating this weekend, that they will fight until the very end.”
Youngs is also inspired by the support from 6,000 miles away back in England.
He added: “The interaction with fans, the messages of support we get is big.
“Obviously social media is huge for that, you can see that. We are fully aware of that now. It spurs the team on, for sure.
“It’s great that there will be so many people tuning in, up early wearing the shirt, feeling very proud. We know that support is there, that only helps the belief within the side and wanting to do well.
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“It’s a fantastic occasion, I was fortunate enough to play in 2011. . . my experience of that is just about making sure the intensity of the game doesn’t shock you in the beginning.
“France raced that day into a lead and we couldn’t pull ourselves back… so it comes to making sure we come out of the blocks, bring that intensity from the start and I’m sure they will be saying the same thing.
“I imagine the first 20 minutes will be pretty full-on. We need to make sure we get the start we want.”