Why England Will Miss Mako Vunipola’s Influence

Why England Will Miss Mako Vunipola’s Influence View this post on Instagram Good to be back in the mixer 🌹 A post shared by Mako Vunipola (@mako_vunipola) on Oct 6, […]

Why England Will Miss Mako Vunipola’s Influence

View this post on Instagram

Good to be back in the mixer 🌹

A post shared by Mako Vunipola (@mako_vunipola) on

Attempts to curb the spread coronavirus will see Mako Vunipola’s return to the England fold delayed. He’s been missed during the 2020 Six Nations, and his influence cannot be underestimated. Eddie Jones has talked about his strength in the backline and how he complements his more agile counterparts. When he’s not there, it’s obvious. While England remain disappointed with their showing against France, potentially handing Les Bleus a Grand Slam on their way to the title in 2020, there have been many positives, especially seeing young players beginning to establish themselves. George Furbank, Willi Heinz and Lewis Ludlam have all shown sparks of what they can do alongside impressive work by stalwarts Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje and Jonny May. In short, others have stepped up but Mako’s presence leaves a hole in England’s backline that was exploited on its losing trip to France in Game Week 1. It’s unlikely Mako Vunipola’s entry into the squad for England’s game against Wales would change the rugby odds from Paddy Power, which can’t split the two national rivals even if the 13-time Grand Slam winners are still given hope, at 15/8, that they can topple the French. Wales will be seeking to turn around their disappointment at losing to France at home but England will fancy their chances in front of a partisan Twickenham crowd. Mako Vunipola’s absence from the squad comes after recommendations to protect the training camp environment. It was prompted after the loosehead prop recently travelled via Hong Kong following a visit to a sick relative in Tonga. He is unlikely to feature for England during the remaining Six Nations games. What Saracens will gain – as he’s available for his domestic club after showing no signs of illness – and England will miss is a combination of carries and tackles with the capacity to scrum with the best in the business. He’s powerful, and like his brother Billy, very skilful. He also reads the game really well, unlike a typical prop.

Sides have come to realise that if they double-up on him, he’s got the awareness to find a pass. Conversely, if you go one-on-one, Mako is almost certainly coming out on top. But it’s more than the stats that set him apart. He’s eager to get back into the game, preying on the ball. It’s that hunger and desire that makes him an ever-present; tirelessly busting into tackles and breaking through the line. It’s a talent – and consistency – that has seen him represent the British and Irish Lions six times. Having missed England’s Six Nations through injury, it’s bad news ahead of crucial games against Wales and Italy that Mako Vunipola won’t be available. A huge personality on the field thanks to his fierce competitiveness and physical stature, Vunipola’s influence on this England team cannot be underestimated. While the national side will get an opportunity to see some of the next generation on the biggest stage, the challenge to topple France feels that bit tougher without Mako in the side.