England Star Says Training With Ireland Star On Lions Tour Changed Everything

Tour pals.

Mako Vunipola has proved time and time again he is one of the best loosehead props in the world. The Saracens front-row has been back to his best for club and country this season, and will no doubt play a huge role in this weekend’s Champions Cup final against Leinster.

But to do that he needs to get the better of “one of, if not the best” tighthead prop in the world in Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong who will be packing down for Leinster this weekend.Vunipola

“Tadhg has proved to be one of the best in the world, if not the best,” Vunipola told The Times.

“Hopefully we can nullify some of his impact, but you can only do so much. I am looking forward to a great match-up.”

The pair know each other well having opposed each other on multiple occasions for both club and country. But the pair also toured New Zealand together as part of the British and Irish Lions back in 2017.

And training alongside Furlong forced Vunipola to completely rethink everything, making him the player he is today.

“He surprised me on the Lions tour in the way that he was such a big guy and his set-piece stuff was solid, but around the park I couldn’t believe how hard he worked.” Vunipola added

“I thought, ‘I’m all right at this’, but then you saw what he did and you are like, ‘Oh, no I’m not’.

“It gives you motivation to push yourself and that is what you get with good players.

“That is one thing I take from those tours and being around those great players – you are always going to learn, it’s just a case of whether you want to.

“He has got all the skills and sometimes you forget he’s a prop forward, but that never takes away from his bread and butter, which is his set-piece. Everything else is a bonus.

“He’s very reliable as a player and when he trains he always gives 100 per cent. That is the sign of a great player in my eyes.

“Off the field we were close. He’s a top bloke and he’s very easy to get along with. Front-rowers tend to migrate towards each other anyway. We spent a lot of time together on the Lions tour.”

[The Times]