Mako Vunipola: England prop believes he can achieve 'world-class' status

Mako Vunipola
Mako Vunipola started in all three Test matches against Australia in the summer
Old Mutual Wealth Series: England v South Africa
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 12 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live with highlights on BBC Two (19:30)

Saracens' in-form prop Mako Vunipola is aiming to become a "world-class" player under the current England set-up.

Vunipola started in all three of England's Test wins against Australia in the summer, and is likely to again start on Saturday against South Africa, with Joe Marler on the bench.

Vunipola, 25, has been one of the Premiership's outstanding performers this season, but wants to improve.

"The biggest message is not to be happy about where we are," Vunipola said.

"There is more accountability and responsibility on the individual. Eddie Jones [England coach] keeps sending me texts if I need a nudge," he told BBC Sport.

When asked whether achieving world-class status was his personal goal, Vunipola replied: "Definitely. We want to be the best we can be. For me it's about improving 1% in every area."

Along with younger brother Billy, Vunipola's work-rate and ball-handling skills have caught the eye over the past few months, something he traces back to his upbringing in the Pacific Islands.

Billy Vunipola
Mako Vunipola's younger brother, Billy, has expressed a desire to switch to American football

"When I was younger, coming from Tonga, I always enjoyed having the ball in my hands," he added.

"Growing up with my brother and two cousins, we played rugby against each other a lot."

And the older Vunipola feels that in the modern game, front-row forwards are required to handle like backs.

"You need all fifteen players to be complete players," continued Mako Vunipola, who has also played down suggestions his brother could play in the NFL at the end of his rugby career.

In an interview with The Times, Billy revealed his desire to try his hand at American Football later in his career.

"He's got to learn the rules first," Mako Vunipola said.

"I'm excited for him if he does get the chance, but it's a long time away and he's still got a lot of things ahead of him first.

"So I think he is just running his mouth a little bit."

Top Stories