Search

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

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 Sport Stories

Yesterday, 16:29
Hugo Lloris of Spurs shakes hands with Manager Mauricio Pochettino  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino hailed the fighting spirit of his side and fans as they came from behind twice to rescue a draw on his first return to Southampton.

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino hands the ball to Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne on his return to St Mary's

Tottenham twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw as head coach Mauricio Pochettino returned to his former club Southampton for the first time.

Mauricio Pochettino (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham need to be “cleverer” than their big-spending rivals this summer and land the first punch by signing their targets early.

Most read sport

Property Newsletter Sign-up

The latest North London property news and features straight into your inbox.

Other Emails:
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Spruce up for spring with this beauty bundle from Justmylook!

Looking to update your look for spring? Well, you’re in luck.

Glen Moray whiskey could be winging its way to you.

The Glen Moray Classic is a classic Speyside single malt and forms the starting point for the Classic Range.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder