Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Sam Underhill believes breakdown will be pivotal in second Test with Australia

Sam Underhill believes the breakdown will be pivotal in the second Test (Mike Egerton/PA)
Sam Underhill believes the breakdown will be pivotal in the second Test (Mike Egerton/PA)

England flanker Sam Underhill believes the battle of the breakdown will be pivotal to levelling the series against Australia in Brisbane.

Wallabies openside Michael Hooper was the dominant figure in the hosts’ 30-28 victory in the first Test in Perth, ruling the contest on the ground including winning one game-changing turnover.

Underhill is now poised to replace Tom Curry, who suffered a concussion in the first Test, and the Bath back row insists dominating the breakdown will be key to ending England’s four-match losing run.

Sam Underhill
Sam Underhill is expected to come into the England side for Tom Curry (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We controlled areas of the game pretty well for a decent chunk of the game but ultimately penalties and discipline cost us,” Underhill said.

“Whether the breakdown was more competitive than we thought it would be or not, we didn’t adapt to the interpretation at the breakdown.

“You can’t have an attack without a functioning attacking breakdown and vice versa – you can’t defend indefinitely, so the breakdown is a pretty good area to target if you want to stifle an attack.

“It is always a massive area of contention, especially in Test rugby against southern hemisphere sides and especially Australia who go pretty hard at it. If you get the breakdown right everything else becomes easier.

“Hooper is obviously a big breakdown threat. It’s not a case of man-marking him but as a team you are acutely aware that if he’s around the breakdown it’s highly likely he’ll be competing. You have to shift him early because he’s good over the ball.”

Tom Curry
Tom Curry’s tour was ended by concussion (Gary Day/AP)

Curry was ruled out of the tour after suffering a concussion in the first Test, his third head knock in the past six months.

Underhill was sidelined for more than two months after suffering back-to-back concussions either side of Christmas. His empathy for Curry is mixed with concern over the growing size of the collisions.

“At Test level Tom is a machine and I’m gutted for him that his tour is over early,” Underhill said.

“It’s pretty essential to get that recovery right. I have been there earlier in the season with concussion and it’s not something to mess about with.

“Rugby is a more physical game than it has ever been. There are big athletes who move very well and at Test level you don’t have a lot of time to react. The collisions are quicker.”

Despite his concussion struggle, Underhill believes the tackle height laws have made the game safer and more entertaining.

“The laws around tackle height and stuff are having a good effect on the game but ultimately if you tackle lower it is harder to affect the ball speed, but ultimately it creates a more entertaining game. I would argue that would be a good thing on the whole,” Underhill said.

“I would like to see players working with refs and vice versa because at the moment I think maybe it would be better for the game if there was greater understanding.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]