Former Castle School pupil Mako Vunipola looks ahead to England's Six Nations title in Wales after being named as replacement
10:39am Thursday 14th March 2013 in Thornbury Sport
MAKO VUNIPOLA is looking forward to facing who he regards as the best tight-head prop in the northern hemisphere in the Six Nations title decider this Saturday.
The 22-year-old Saracens prop, who grew up in Thornbury, was one of few England players to shine in the 18-11 win over Italy on Sunday after being handed his first start by head coach Stuart Lancaster but will be back on the bench against Wales this Saturday as Joe Marler reclaims his place in the side.
That victory kept England’s hopes of a first Grand Slam for a decade alive and set-up a mouth-watering clash at the Millennium Stadium, where Vunipola hopes to come up against Adam Jones, a player he has the utmost respect for.
“Adam Jones is a great tight-head as he showed on the Lions tour a few years back and is probably No 1 in the northern hemisphere,” said Vunipola.
“It is going to be a challenge for us and we are looking forward to it.”
England need to avoid defeat by seven points or more to regain the title from last year’s champions, Wales, but Vunipola insists they will need to play a lot better than they did against Italy.
“We all know in the changing room that a repeat of this won’t be good enough,” he said. “We got the win against a quality Italian side but if we perform like that next week we will have no chance.
“It kind of feels like we lost the game. I think all the boys are disappointed with how we performed.”
Vunipola has played in all four of England’s games during the tournament so far and made such an impression as a replacement in the previous three games that Lancaster was persuaded to start him against the Italians.
Speaking on twitter, the former Castle School pupil added: “Tough win against a good team bt was great to start my first game thanks for the messages.”
Vunipola’s younger brother Billy is also part of England’s Six Nations squad, but the Wasps No 8 has been hampered by an ankle problem and is yet to make his international debut.