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James Crombie/INPHO Billy Vunipola is a big loss for England this weekend.
# The42 Rugby Weekly
‘Ireland are groping around a bit in the dark searching for cohesion’
Andy Dunne and Murray Kinsella examine the key issues in forensic detail ahead of this Sunday’s showdown in Twickenham between Ireland and England.

BIG GAME THIS Sunday. You only had to listen The42 Rugby Weekly to figure that out, Andy Dunne on top form, our own Murray Kinsella helping to whet the appetite ahead of the Triple Crown decider in London.

Across a breathless hour’s chat, impeccably chaired by Gavan Casey, the two men whizzed across a range of issues, Dunne pulling no punches as usual.

The lads tried to figure out where the winning and losing of the game will be, fielded a The42 member’s question as to what extent the media plays a role in Ireland’s performance, while Andy explained why Henry Tuilagi still haunts his dreams at night.

But first up, these rugby commentators opted to become psychological assessors of the two camps.

Here is Murray on England’s current mindset: “They’re obviously on rocky ground, there is the whole Saracens thing going on in the background, there is vulnerability there, there is a lot on the line, key deficiencies.”

Andy Dunne said: “There are definitely vulnerabilities on both sides. From the Irish perspective, there is a suggestion they are groping around a bit in the dark, searching for cohesion. That actually showed really nicely in the Welsh game, that was really positive. We probably don’t like to admit that we like being underdogs, but whatever reason we prefer being psychological underdogs suits our psyche. That, added to Billy Vunipola being out, makes us marginal favourites.”

Discussion turned to Manu Tuilagi – a cold sweat breaking out in Andy Dunne as he remembered his playing days in Harlequins, trying to stop another Tuilagi, Henry.

englands-manu-tuilagi-is-tackled-by-frances-bernard-le-roux-222020 Billy Stickland / INPHO Manu Tuilagi against France. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“When I played against Henry Tuilagi, he was playing for Leicester – he was the biggest human I’ve ever seen,” Dunne said. “He kind of haunts my dreams. ‘Just stick to him like chewing gum, you’ll stop his momentum,’ was the advice given to him. 

“Ireland might need that chewing gum tactic. Really, how do you stop Manu?

Murray: “You can be alert closing down that space; it’s generally a two-man job.”

Dunne: “You need huge physical upper-body strength to deal with him.”

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Murray: “Aki and Henshaw will double up and are good decision makers as well as being physically tough but you have to respect that England will use him as a decoy. Ireland, in August, got it badly wrong. They have to work really hard off the set piece.”

Murray went on to suggest England will “defensively try and put huge pressure on Ireland developing the attacking play” while Andy put forward his reasons why Billy Vunipola is a much bigger loss to England than his brother, Mako.

 Billy is very much more pivotal,” Dunne says. “In fact Billy Vunipola is close to being physically unstoppable. His underrated aspect to his game is his passing – defenders have to try and stop him up close but he is so effective because he can do both, carry and pass, with such ease that it makes him so hard to stop. Hardened international props don’t fear Mako. Billy does everything from a No8 brilliantly. Billy is the bigger loss for him.”

Determining who will win the scrum battle isn’t easy, Murray pointing out that England’s scrum have won five penalties in the tournament so far. “They are in pretty good nick and with Joe Marler starting – that makes for a fascinating contest.”

No one doubts it.

The42 Rugby Weekly / SoundCloud

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