Next up is England, and if it wasn’t for an injury to one of us, a chance to play against family this weekend. I’ve played against [my cousin] Billy [Vunipola] for Wasps before so we’ve had that experience on the same pitch before, but it’s a shame that he’s injured and will miss this week’s clash and the rest of the tournament because it would have been good to play against him one more time.
Instead it’s looking like Ben Morgan will take Billy’s place, but like my cousin he’s someone I’ve played against in the past and I’m therefore aware of his playing style. He’s a similar player in a similar mould to Billy. He’s a strong ball carrier, and he’ll be a tough opponent as Billy would have been out there.
For England in general, this is one of their main dangers in their game – running. Mike Brown has been one of those leading their attacks his tournament, but when all 15 of them work together, England are capable of problems and this is something we’re well aware of. Our off-the-ball performance will need to be as good as when we’ve got possession ourselves, and we need to make sure that slip ups don’t happen when we’re defending. If we don’t, we’ll open ourselves up to being punished.
We might have won the last three against England, but these are past matches and they should have no relevance to the game on the weekend. Rather than focus on or celebrate past encounters down the years, the boys and myself will pick up where we left off in our last, most recent performance [against France] and attempt to repeat the strength of rugby in that game. Whether England are looking for revenge from our last game I don’t know, but our slate is clean and we’re going into this fresh.
England are going into this game as favourites, so if anyone was to underestimate anyone else it would be them underestimating us. That’s why it’s important to not bring past results into the game, and we must not treat this one like there’s history – history in our favour – there. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just another game we need to win. In training this week that’s how we’ve been treating this – one more game to win to keep us in contention for the title. We’ll be looking for a convincing win if we’re to keep our challenge up. Win on Sunday, and that possibility remains.
Some people may think that Twickenham has been a bit of a challenge for us in the past, but it’s just another game at another stadium as far as we’re concerned. Like France last week it’ll be a crunch match, but our motivation with the situation we’re in will come naturally. The boys certainly won’t need prepping before the game and we’re really up for this one, as I know the English will be. It’s one of our biggest tests and I’m sure the crowd, knowing this, will play a big part in helping us achieve victory on the road.
Having played in a winning game at Twickenham before, quite a lot of us know what we can get from this game, and that added experience over some of England’s team is helpful. England may have fewer caps as a squad, but they’ve still got plenty of first teamers with plenty of club experience so we need to keep our focus going into this one and, as I mentioned, not underestimate our opponents.
Wales have got a strong squad now, we’re really conditioned, and I think Warren’s done enough to pick a winning side for this weekend. We don’t mind how we win, how long it takes for the first try to be scored, but anything less than a strong 80 minutes isn’t part of our plan. Sunday is a big one, and we’ll be ready.
Column exclusively brought to you by Under Armour athlete and WRU back row forward, Taulupe Faletau.