British & Irish Lions 2013
Vunipola to prop up Lions?
Thu, 13 Jun 2013 13:56
Every player wants to play in the Tests
With the injuries to Gethin Jenkins and Cian Healy, Mako Vunipola could be in line for a starting berth in the first Test against Australia next weekend.
The 22-year-old prop has been in sublime form for both club and the Lions since he made his first official start for England in the Six Nations and has been building on the confidence he gained from that.
Although he seems to be the favourite choice to take over the No.1 jersey he remains quiet about his chances.
Vunipola told lionsrugby.com: The coaches wouldn't have brought out Alex [Corbisiero] and Ryan [Grant] if they didn't think they were good enough to play in the Test series. I've just got to keep my head down and keep working hard.
"Every player wants to play in the Tests. I knew with Gethin Jenkins and Cian Healy here, two solid Test props, that I'd have my work cut out - I knew I would have to work hard to push for the Test team.
"It's been going well so far and hopefully I can keep it going," added Vunipola.
Vunipola will play in his third consecutive game for the Lions when they face the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday and has had every opportunity to impress the selectors.
"To get three games in a row is great and I've had more chances than most players. Personally, the coaches seem happy with what I am doing so far, although obviously there is still room to improve and I need a good performance on Saturday," said the prop.
The attitude of the Saracens man is very simple and that basic approach seems to be helping him make a solid mark on this tour.
"Every chance you get to pull on the red Lions jersey is a chance to push for the Test side. This game is no different - I'll just go out there and play the same game," he mentioned.
The English International has worked with Lions forwards coach Graham Rowntree for a number of years and he feels that the coach has been instrumental in helping him develop his all-round game.
"I've been working with Graham [Rowntree] and he has been helpful here, and with England. The same set-up has been helpful for me and Graham has been a mentor for me since 18 and helped me a lot," Vunipola added.
The youngster is taking in as much as possible on his first Lions tour and learning from some of the Northern Hemisphere's greatest players can only make him a better player. The competition for places is another thing that players learn about on such a high-profile tour and Vunipola is taking it all in his stride.
"Being out here with so many class players you can't help but learn off them. Having Alex and Ryan come out has heightened the competition, although there is a lot of competition in all positions," he said.
The first Test takes place at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on June, 22.
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