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

Calum Chambers of Arsenal  (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists defender Calum Chambers will not leave the club on loan this summer.

Yesterday, 15:25
Craig Gourlay hit 75 not out for Highgate as they triumphed against Harrow Town

Craig Gourlay smashed an unbeaten 75 from just 32 balls to complete a thrilling run-chase as Highgate beat Harrow Town to stretch their lead at the top of the table.

DeAndre Yedlin

Mauricio Pochettino has challenged DeAndre Yedlin to prove he is ready to be a Premier League player after the USA international joined up with the Tottenham squad in Denver.

Yesterday, 13:06
Arsenal's Chuba Akpom (right) and Lyon's Mehdi Zeffane battle for the ball during the Emirates Cup

Teenage striker Chuba Akpom wants to battle for a place in the Arsenal side this season rather than go out again on loan.

Most read sport

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Terrific tea, creamy cakes and splendid sandwiches at Mews of Mayfair.

Celebrate a truly quintessentially British tradition with the chance of winning a luxurious Afternoon Tea for two people at Mews of Mayfair, complete with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Digital Edition

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


Our trusted business finder