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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Six Nations 2020: England must not be too frantic against Italy, says Billy Vunipola

Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 31 October Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Sounds, with live text on the BBC Sport website and app. Watch highlights on the BBC Sport website and app after the match.

Billy Vunipola says England must not “become too frantic” in pursuit of tries when they bid for the Six Nations title against Italy on Saturday.

England need a big bonus-point win in Rome to put themselves in the best possible position to seal the title.

In 2015 England beat France 55-35 but finished one converted try short of becoming champions instead of Ireland.

“We didn’t set the foundations, playing in the right areas [that day], making sure we wore them down,” Vunipola said.

“We allowed it to become like sevens. We let too many points slip past us and that has been the focus this week – how we can play our way in and make sure we do what we need to do to put us in a good position.”

England know that a bonus-point win will not be enough if Ireland secure their own bonus-point victory in France, while the title will come down to points difference if Ireland win but without the bonus point – or France win with a bonus point.

Eddie Jones’ side have won all previous 26 meetings with Italy, averaging over 40 points each time, but Vunipola says complacency is forbidden under Jones.

“Any team that has Eddie, you are not allowed to get ahead of yourself,” said the Saracens number eight.

“We have got to make sure we play the English game, and that is through our set-piece and make sure that we dominate, and that is our intention. After that hopefully we can play and put some points on the board.”

The cancellation of last Sunday’s fixture against the Barbarians means Vunipola has not played since the end of Saracens’ season on 4 October.

“In terms of having a long break between my last game and this game, it hasn’t been a challenge at all. The world is a different place at the moment, so I’ve just been biding my time,” he said.

“It is an ongoing battle trying to keep my weight down and make sure that I am in the best physical shape that I can be when I am called upon to play.

“I’m excited. You could say that I’m a bit of a coiled spring, but I don’t want to talk too much about that, I want to do my talking on the pitch.”

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