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Opinion: Eddie Jones Must Rethink Billy Vunipola’s England Role

first_imgWith the prospect of blending the healthy balance Jones struck in November and the availability of his favourite powerhouses, Jones must drastically rethink the manner in which he deploys his fit-again ammunition.Most important is the role in which Billy Vunipola is employed once restored to the No 8 jersey. The success of Wilson alongside two capable breakdown components – and not an out-of-position second-row – must be replicated as closely as possible.Since returning for Saracens, Billy has reminded the England coaching staff of his aptitude at the breakdown and his ability to mix it with the backs when required – and not solely as a battering ram, as he has most often been deployed under the Jones regime.The unrivalled physicality Billy provides England must be treated as a luxury and not the stable diet of hypothetical success. If this side once again become overly reliant on the No 8, history will repeat itself, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy that sees Vunipola enjoy a short period of destructive jubilation before once again being driven into the ground and onto the physio bed.Having the likes of big brother Mako, Sinckler, Te’o and Tuilagi in the squad allows a significant weight to be lifted from Billy’s shoulders, spreading the responsibility of gaining front-foot ball across the XV and permitting the wrecking ball of a No 8 to flaunt his full skillset and enjoy some semblance of longevity of fitness in the lead-up to the much coveted World Cup campaign later this year. Rethink: How will Eddie Jones use Billy Vunipola on international duty? (Getty Images) Opinion: Eddie Jones Must Rethink Billy Vunipola’s England RoleThe excitement, fiery debate and drama of the 2019 Six Nations is beginning to unfold as a nervous energy begins its crescendo. No one will be more aware of the importance of the last Six Nations before the Rugby World Cup than England coach Eddie Jones, whose most important task this year must be to rethink Billy Vunipola’s role for the sake of both player and nation.The headlines may be dominated by yet another classic Jones soundbite, suggesting Exeter wing Jack Nowell would be able to play at openside flanker for England, but the true narrative of note surrounds the staggering firepower now at the Australian’s fingertips.Related: England Six Nations SquadThe sight of a fit Manu Tuilagi or Billy Vunipola has become a rarity over the past three years, with England’s most destructive carriers destined to send the supporters’ hopes through a roller coaster of emotions, a never ceasing circle of ‘will he won’t he’ be fit for national duty.But this year not only does Jones have both Billy and Manu fit and firing, he has Mako Vunipola (Billy’s older brother), Worcester’s physically imposing centre Ben Te’o and even the luxury of Bath’s colossal winger Joe Cokanasiga to choose from.Criticism has been laid at Jones’s door over the past two years in regard to relying far too heavily on big ball-carriers, with last year’s fifth-place finish in the Six Nations piling a mountain of blame on his doorstep.Fortunately for both supporters and Jones himself, England enjoyed a positive autumn campaign. The most important narratives of Jones’s second November campaign came in the nature of his selections, completely changing the face of his team’s balance – all for the good.Bereft of the bulldozing Billy or Wasps man Nathan Hughes at the back of England’s scrum, Jones turned to Newcastle Falcons blindside Mark Wilson, who went from the unseen Premiership workhorse to, arguably, the year’s biggest success story. Combined with a breakdown-proficient flanker pairing of Brad Shields and Sam Underhill, the problem areas Scotland and France exploited to devastating effect nine months ago were nowhere to be seen. England Six Nations Squad 2021 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Last year’s Champions will be hoping to retain… England Six Nations Fixtures 2021 Ali Stokes argues that Saracens No 8 Billy Vunipola needs to be deployed in a different way by England England Six Nations Fixtures 2021 Jones must learn to deploy Billy Vunipola as a luxury and not a crutch.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. England’s Six Nations ends with defeat in Dublin Collapse England Six Nations Squad 2021 Expand With this new-look unit operating with explosive tighthead Kyle Sinckler and Owen Farrell’s return to his preferred ten jersey, alongside the substantial presence of Te’o, balance was restored for the current England team.last_img read more

Opponent preview: What to know about Clemson

first_imgSyracuse (13-7, 6-3 Atlantic Coast) looks to build on five-straight wins with a matchup against Clemson (10-9, 4-5) Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Littlejohn Coliseum. After a slow start to the season, the Orange are rolling into a weekend matchup with No. 9 Duke after defeating Pittsburgh last Saturday.Here’s what to know about Clemson ahead of the matchup.All-time series: Clemson leads, 5-4Last time they played: Syracuse suffered one of its worst losses of the season last year in a 12-point loss to Clemson on March 9, 2019. It was the final game of the regular season for SU, and the Orange failed to secure their 20th win. Oshae Brissett led SU in scoring with 15 points.The Clemson report: The Tigers beat Duke. And perhaps that’s the only glaring thing that the Orange need to know about them. Clemson isn’t a great 3-point shooting team and operates most efficiently inside the arc. Syracuse dominated a team like that in Pittsburgh a few days ago. However, the Tigers do like to shoot the 3 and get 36.8% of their points from beyond the arc, per KenPom. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThis has led to great performances and also a question as to whether or not you will catch the Tigers on a good shooting day. Against the Blue Devils, they converted 42.1% of their 3-point attempts. That’s 1o points higher than Clemson’s typical game average. The Tigers are streaky, but they can score and play defense on the other end.How Syracuse beats the Tigers: Shoot and play defense. The Orange hit 9.2 3-pointers per game, which is the highest per game average in team history. In recent memory, it’s hard to think of some dominant 3-point shooting Syracuse teams, but they’ve certainly had their fair share of shooters in its long history. The Orange can score quickly and efficiently, and it’s probably the strength of the team. But the shooting generally emerges in the presence of defense. Jim Boeheim said a few games ago that we wouldn’t see this SU team run, but in recent games transition has actually been great or at least appears that way. SU gets open 3-pointers in transition and are hard to come back from for an opposing team, especially off a turnover. That’s sort of how Clemson beat Duke, so why not Syracuse show them an even better version.Stat to know: No. 3 — Duke’s ranking when they were upset by the Tigers.KenPom odds: The Orange have a 48% chance to win the game, with a final score prediction of 68-67 per KenPom.Player to watch: Aamir Simms, No. 25, ForwardClemson does not have a dominant player, but Simms is close to it. The 6-foot-8 forward has great size and shooting ability and leads the team in rebounds and blocks. He’ll be a threat from everywhere for Syracuse on Tuesday. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 27, 2020 at 11:57 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @MikeJMcClearylast_img read more