Andrew rues Vunipola's absence

05 March 2018 06:29:52 EST

Ex-England international Rob Andrew believes that Eddie Jones' side need to sort out their unbalanced back-row in time for the France game.

With Billy Vunipola injured and Nathan Hughes not fully match-fit, the Red Rose have struggled to get front foot ball in the 2018 Six Nations.

They were also punished by the Scots at the breakdown with Jones' men conceding a number of penalties at the contact area.

Pundits have therefore bemoaned the use of Courtney Lawes - usually a lock - at six which has shifted blindside Chris Robshaw onto the openside flank, but Andrew insists that Vunipola's absence is the biggest issue.

"They've got some weaknesses there that, when somebody gets into them in a big way, they don't seem to be able to respond," he said.

"We've talked about how important Billy Vunipola is to this team and that in itself is a slight danger if you're relying so much on one player getting this team on the front foot.

"If they're on the front foot, they're a very dangerous side. When somebody stops them and they can't get any momentum, either through the scrum or lineout, (they struggle).

"In the first year of Eddie's reign there was almost a tag team of ball-carriers between Mako Vunipola and Billy, who were taking turns on getting them over the gain line.

"Then you put (Ben) Youngs, (George) Ford and (Owen) Farrell on the front foot and you're a different team. At the moment we're stuck in the trenches and we can't get out."

England are 1/4 to beat France while they are 6/1 to be the Top Tryscoring Nation in the 2018 Six Nations.

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