“I’ve just been playing rubbish, I can’t lie.”
Billy Vunipola has admitted that he has been playing far below his best for England in the current Six Nations campaign.
England lost to Scotland at Twickenham for the first time since 1983 in their first match of 2021, before claiming a convincing win against Italy the following week.
Despite the team’s improved performance against the Italians, Vunipola revealed to The Guardian that he has been massively disappointed in his own performances so far.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 22, 2021
Billy Vunipola: I have played rubbish for England in the Six Nations.
“I’ve just been playing rubbish, I can’t lie and I need to turn up this weekend. At the moment Eddie probably thinks someone has cloned me. The person he thought he had in his team is at home and the other person is here.
“I need to make sure he’s got the right clone because, at the moment, he’s had the wrong one. You know you’re playing badly when your mum and dad are the only ones texting you saying they love you,” Vunipola said.
All players involved in Six Nations this year have had to be part of a restrictive bubble in which they are not allowed to see people outside of their frequently-tested fellow squad members.
The England number eight, who recently became a father, admitted that he has found the restrictions difficult to live with and that he was ‘feeling sorry’ for himself being away from his family.
“That took away from my performance in training and you play how you train,” he said.
“I haven’t been training very well; last week was probably the best I have trained in the last three weeks.
“This week is a big week for myself and I’m ready for it.”
Billy Vunipola: I guess I’ve been a bit of a coward.
Vunipola, along with several of his England teammates, has had limited game time recently as a result of Saracens’ relegation from the Gallagher Premiership at the end of last season.
The back-rower did play for Saracens in a pre-season friendly against Ealing Trailfinders in January, but conceded that his limited time on the pitch had made him worried about his fitness.
“Because of my lack of game time, I guess I am trying to put myself in positions where I don’t have to run as much, so that I still get the ball and have the same effect. But if you are doing that, you are holding back.
“There was a great NFL coach who talked about fatigue making a coward out of everyone. I guess I’ve been a bit of a coward the last two weeks, because I have been hiding from being fatigued,” Vunipola commented.
England take on Wales at the Principality Stadium this Saturday, in what is a must-win game for Eddie Jones‘ men if they wish to retain their Six Nations title.