England: Eddie Jones ‘was right’ to drop Billy Vunipola says number eight

Colin Newboult

England number eight Billy Vunipola admits that Eddie Jones’ decision to drop him from the squad has been a blessing in disguise.

Despite initially disagreeing with Jones’ choice, it ultimately gave the back-row the motivation to turn his career around.

Vunipola struggled for form following the 2019 World Cup but, with the help of a psychologist, he has looked rejuvenated this season, culminating in an impressive tour of Australia.

A massive help

“I disagreed with Eddie, but looking back now he was right. That’s where this kind of all started. And I’m glad it did,” the back-row said.

“I’ve never really believed in psychologists before but after talking to Eddie I felt like I needed someone to tell me the honest truth. And I found someone who was class.

“We talked nearly every day for six or seven months. One of our first conversations was me complaining about being relegated and he basically just said, ‘what can you do about it? ‘ I said, ‘nothing’. And he said, ‘what can you do about your rugby’, and I was like, ‘everything’.

“And that was the start of my journey. I still talk with him here and there. He was a massive help. It had to be the right person and from the start we hit it off. I thought he was class.

“I’ll give you an analogy. He said that I climbed up the mountain, I was really hungry to get to where I wanted to get to. And I got to where I wanted to get to. And now everyone’s still climbing and I’m just here.

“He basically said if you stop now, you will regret it for the rest of your life. And if you carry on then who knows what could happen? When he put it in those words, I was ready to throw it all in with him.”

Improved work ethic

Vunipola said he simply wasn’t working hard enough or looking after his body well enough to produce top performances at the highest level.

“It’s also more of a conscious thing to think about how I want to perform and what I want to do in a game,” the England number eight added.

“It’s not just turning up and hoping it happens, which I got away with for a lot of years. This little snag helped me to find a better version of myself.

“My (Christian) faith is massive too. I think sometimes I rely on it too much not to do any work. I forgot to do the work bit. I was blessed with the gift but I’ve got to work on it.

“And that’s where this guy came in. I needed to roll my sleeves up and work again.”

READ MORE: Danny Care returns to the starting line-up as Ollie Chessum gets his first Test start


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