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Vunipola: Mental weakness not an issue for England

England number eight Billy Vunipola

Billy Vunipola says England must stop buckling under pressure but denied they are mentally weak after falling short in the Six Nations.

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Coach Eddie Jones plans to recruit an expert to work on the players’ mentality after England squandered a 31-point lead to draw 38-38 with Scotland in their final match of the tournament.

England were also in front against Wales before Warren Gatland’s men came roaring back en route to winning the Grand Slam.

Jones feels his players have been suffering psychologically since England’s Rugby World Cup failure on home soil four years ago, but Vunipola says they just need to be more resolute when under the cosh.

The number eight told Omnisport: “I wouldn’t say [mental] weakness [is an issue], I’d probably say something that we haven’t, as a group, haven’t experienced before [is] being under that pressure.

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“A lot of us are probably new to it and it’s a good learning curve for us and hopefully we can take the learning from it and stay positive because the last thing we want to do is feel sorry for ourselves.

“We’ve got to pick ourselves up, play well for our clubs and put ourselves in the best position to play for England again.”

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The 130kg No.8 thinks there were plenty of plus points for England to take after they finished second.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t win the whole thing. We did a lot of good things, we did a lot of positive things within the tournament.” he added.

“We’re probably five or 10 per cent off where we need to be and that’s huge going into a World Cup, we’ve still got things to improve on and hopefully we can do that.”

– Vunipola was speaking at a coaching session he was leading with fellow Saracens and Harlequins players on behalf of Land Rover at Beaconsfield RFC

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Shaylen 9 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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