England v France: Billy Vunipola braced for 'massive' French pack

Billy Vunipola
Vunipola, who has recovered from three successive broken arms to regain his England place, played a full 80 minutes in England's win in Ireland
Six Nations: England v France
Venue: Twickenham Date: Sunday, 10 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online; text updates and highlights on the BBC Sport website and app; TV highlights on BBC Two at 18:00 GMT.

Number eight Billy Vunipola has told the England forwards they must trump their heavy-duty French counterparts to win Sunday's Six Nations encounter.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said England had "the physical edge" in last week's victory in Dublin and Vunipola has demanded a similarly dominant display.

"As a pack we must confront the challenge of their big carriers," he said.

"If you give them a leg up, then France are extremely, extremely dangerous."

He added: "They're massive blokes and if you give them momentum they're tough to stop."

France won the teams' meeting in Paris last season 22-16, but have not won at Twickenham since Dimitri Yachvili's boot earned them a slender win in 2005.

Coach Jacques Brunel has brought in Mathieu Bastareaud to add muscle to his midfield after a second-half collapse saw France surrender a 16-point half-time lead in defeat by Wales in the opening round of matches.

There have also been changes in the pack and Vunipola believes that the introduction of 20-year-old Demba Bamba, along with Felix Lambey and Yacouba Camara (both 24), will make the French more of a threat with ball in hand.

"It's probably added more to them than taking away any of their strengths," he said.

"They're probably a bit more athletic with Yacouba Camara in at six and Demba Bamba has some good footwork at tighthead prop. He's a big, big human being."

Vunipola added that there is no danger of England resting on their laurels after they upset the bookmakers' odds to beat the defending Six Nations champions away from home.

"The challenge is to be better. We've spoken all week about being better," Vunipola said.

"We have leaders and coaches who aren't happy having goals that aren't the same or similar. We want to push forward and see if we can improve."

France coach Brunel believes England are back to their best after losing six successive matches last year.

France's miserable Six Nations run at Twickenham
However France won 22-16 in Paris last season
4 February 2017Lost 19-16
21 March 2015Lost 55-35
23 February 2013Lost 23-13
26 February 2011Lost 17-9
15 March 2009Lost 34-10
11 March 2007Lost 26-18
13 February 2005Won 18-17

The former Italy coach praised counterpart Eddie Jones for tapping into the traditional strengths of the English game.

"They remained true to themselves last year. They had a difficult stretch that lasted three or four months but since then they've been superb.

"England always impose their power. They're back to their best, as the game against Ireland showed.

"They dominated Ireland by putting constant pressure on them. In my eyes, it was a very English display."

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