Search

Billy Vunipola: There’s only so much respect you can give to Irish duo

PUBLISHED: 14:24 11 February 2014 | UPDATED: 14:24 11 February 2014

Billy Vunipola in action for England. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Billy Vunipola in action for England. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

2014 Getty Images

England No.8 Billy Vunipola respects Ireland greats Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell, but that admiration will vanish at Twickenham.

A pivotal clash looms on Saturday week when the unbeaten Irish, now second favourites behind France to win the Championship, put their Grand Slam dream on the line against Stuart Lancaster’s men.

Leading the assault will be British and Irish Lions captains O’Driscoll and O’Connell, who between them have made 22 appearances against England, accumulating 15 wins.

All that experience will be brought to bear at Twickenham with O’Driscoll’s final appearance in the fixture before retiring at the end of the season adding an emotional dimension.

But their reputations will be forgotten by 21-year-old Vunipola, England’s marauding back row who has made a ball-wrecking start to his first Six Nations.

“It’s a massive honour to play against them having seen them in previous Ireland-England games and the Lions tours where they’ve been captains,” he said.

“But there’s only so much respect you can give them, because once you’re on the pitch you’re trying to beat them.

“I’m young and I just go out there and try to do my job, but Ireland are obviously a great team, they’re unbeaten at the moment.

“Hopefully we can be the ones to beat them.”

Ireland’s rolling maul was instrumental in their 26-3 rout of Wales and Vunipola believes winning the forward battle should decide the outcome.

“The maul is a big part of their game,” the Saracens number eight said.

“They try to mix it up between their forwards and backs, but they do look to the pack for go-forward with the likes of Paul O’Connell as the engine.

“If we can stop him and the rest of their forwards doing that, I think we’ve got a good chance of winning.”

A tight Six Nations could be decided by points difference and it is this possibility that left England regretting the only flaw of an otherwise impressive 20-0 victory over Scotland.

“It’s awesome to put 20 points on Scotland, and nil them as well, but we left a few points out there,” Vunipola said.

“Just before half time and a few times in the second half there were moments when we should have been more clinical as a team. We’re growing and still got a lot to work on.”

Related articles

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

49 minutes ago

The television picks for Premier League games in March and on April 1 have been announced

Friendly: Haringey Borough 0 Leyton Orient 2

09:00

Bostik Premier: Dulwich Hamlet 1 (Clunis 45) Wingate & Finchley 2 (Obafemi 76, Hayles o.g. 90)

Yesterday, 23:46

Arsene Wenger came out fighting ahead of Wednesday’s huge Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at the Emirates against Chelsea.

Yesterday, 20:59

Arsenal U23s beat Bayern Munich U23s 5-2 in the Premier League International Cup at Meadow Walk on Tuesday evening. Read on for Layth Yousif’s player ratings on the talented junior gunners.

Yesterday, 16:13

Layth Yousif was at London Colney on Tuesday morning to hear what Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had to say about playing London rivals Chelsea at the Emirates on Wednesday – with a chance of silverware at stake for the winner.

Yesterday, 14:00

Spurs looked to have lost ground in the battle for a Champions League spot on Sunday, but Liverpool’s shock defeat at Swansea has lifted spirits again

Read what Arsene Wenger had to say on new signing Henrik Mkhitaryan, the outgoing Alexis Sanchez, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Chelsea team news and much more.

PROMOTED CONTENT

For people who suffer with feet problems, it is often difficult to find footwear that is both comfortable and stylish. There is a shop in the West End dedicated to changing that.

Toni Krok, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007, has set up a charity to help people living with the condition and their families adjust to the challenges it brings.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now