MIKE BROWN: A dressing down gave us the best of Billy Vunipola again

MIKE BROWN: A dressing down from his dad gave us the best of Billy Vunipola again after he impressed against Australia… England need someone like him in their team, and he put them right on the front foot

  • England ended their four-game winless streak with 25-17 victory over Australia 
  • Billy Vunipola was given a dressing down from his dad but went on to impress 
  • He helped put his side on the front foot right away, and currently looks very fit 
  • However, the team must now add consistency all the way through their matches 

It was interesting to hear Billy Vunipola talk about his dad giving him a dressing down before the match – in a similar way older brother, Mako, keeps him in check. Hierarchy is big in Pacific Island culture so I’m not surprised we saw a reaction!

When Billy’s at his best no one can get over the gain-line like him. He sits people down but he’s also got a little bit of footwork that creates space, allowing him to beat two defenders instead of one. When he’s fit, that really comes through and I was impressed with him.

There was a time after the World Cup where he may have let himself go. Maybe he lost some desire. He has to stay on top of his conditioning and currently he looks fit.

Billy Vunipola revealed he was given a dressing down from his dad before England’s victory

Watching him in the Premiership final, he was Saracens’ best player – and he has been all season. He’s matured. It was great to see him smiling because he’s not a serious and intense character like Owen Farrell – you get the best out of him when he’s having fun.

If Manu Tuilagi is missing through injury, England really need someone like Billy in the team. I’ve had to tackle him and it’s awful. You’ve just got to go as low as possible and hope for the best.

He makes hard carries around the ruck, running off the scrum-half. He offers a different type of threat to Alex Dombrandt, who stands wider and runs off the 10, usually Marcus Smith.

Billy put England on the front-foot right from the start. They need to take that first half and make it their identity. Domination by the forwards with fast, punchy runners off the 10.

Vunipola (L) starred against Australia, and helped put his side on the front foot from the start

But it was concerning how they dropped off – they must add consistency all the way through

The best England teams over the last couple of years have had a dominant defence, squeezing teams to make errors, and that needs to be in their DNA. Backed up with some smart, tactical kicking, they will be difficult to stop.

My only concern was how they dropped off again. This is not a good Australian team and England should have blown them away after the break.

There’s no like-for-like replacement for the injured Maro Itoje in the decider but I believe Ollie Chessum should step in with Lewis Ludlam replacing Sam Underhill if he’s unavailable.

England have found a winning blueprint and need to build on it by adding consistency through whole matches. If they can replicate that first half throughout the decider then I fully expect them come away with a 2-1 series victory.




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