Saracens prop Mako Vunipola starts for the British and Irish Lions against the Waratahs at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday, but he is taking nothing for granted despite being tipped for a place in the test side against Australia.
Strong performances so far on the tour have put the 22-year-old in the spotlight and following injuries to Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins, the England man is the only loosehead remaining among those originally called up by head coach Warren Gatland,
Vunipola will get his fourth Lions outing on Saturday but having now been joined in the squad by Northampton-Saints bound Alex Corbisiero and Scotland’s Ryan Grant, Vunipola believes he still has work to do to make Gatland’s starting XV for the first Test at the Suncorp Stadium.
“The coaches wouldn’t have brought out Alex and Ryan if they didn’t think they were good enough to play in the Test series,” he said.
“I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep working hard.
“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.
“Everyone wants to play in the Tests. It’s been going well so far and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Vunipola is looking forward to taking on the Waratahs, and he will be joined in the front row by Leicester Tigers hooker Tom Youngs, with Wales’ Adam Jones at tighthead.
And he believes it could prove the Lions’ toughest challenge yet following four straight wins.
“I’ve seen a few of the Waratahs’ games and they did well against the Western Force after they had played us,” he said.
“They looked quite strong – a lot stronger than the Force and probably than the (Queensland) Reds. They will be strong up front and we know we will have our work cut out.
“Every time you 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.”
Allianz Park will be the next best place to be to watch the first Lions test on June 22. Join with other fans to watch the game on our giant screen and enjoy the big match atmosphere.
It’s just £10 for adults and free for U16s and with coaching sessions for youngsters on the pitch, it promises to be a great day. Or why not enjoy an all-you-can-eat breakfast before the test and a VIP seat to watch the game for just £20! – Click here for more details.