Mako Vunipola has warned England that they will face one of the biggest challenges in the Autumn Nations Cup stage on Saturday as they will take it one step further in class.
Leaving aside the Six Nations title in Rome and Georgia 40-0, Eddie Jones ’men faced the first significant test of the competition when Ireland visit Twickenham.
England have come out on top in the last three meetings, with the latter having a 24-12 victory in February on the one-sided side, which remains the best performance they have had since they stepped on New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup finals.
Vunipola, a British and Irish Lions, started two of those three games but sees them as distant memories.
“Ireland will be on a different level. No lack of respect for Italy and Georgia, but Ireland has been number one in the world on that day and they still have a lot of players who have been there and done that,” Vunipola said.
“New players are coming in and making an impact, so they’re growing, so we understand that these are the games you want to do your best and these are the most important ones.
“We can learn from our victories against Ireland, but it’s a different side this weekend. Ireland can play a wide range of rugby or they can stay in the tight spot.
“We’re not excited that our latest games will mean anything this week. They’ll come in for their best performance. We want to match that.”
Vunipola, who is speaking this week, will premiere ‘Apart from the Oceans: Greed, Betrayal and Pacific Island Rugby’ – a documentary that highlights the exploitation of players from Fiji, Samoa and the Pacific Islands.
Produced by former Samoan striker Dan Leo, it highlights a number of issues, including the looting of the richest nations in the Islands ’major recreational resources and the reluctance to travel through those countries or share receipts for home game portals.
World Rugby President Bill Beaumont has proposed that players from the Pacific Islands still be allowed to replace their hometown after being “caught” by heavyweights of a certain level to help strike a balance.
Vunipola, which has a Tongan heritage, sees Beaumont’s idea as an imperfect solution.
“I’d love to say yes, but it’s also hard because it would be unfair for those who return to the island to see myself seeing the old man and take that opportunity away from them,” Vunipola said.
“As a Tongan, what I really want from the islanders is a better opportunity for everyone and a better life. If that means I can help with that, I will try my best.
“There are a lot of people like me who go abroad to try to find a better life and get people back home, so you can’t take that away from them, that opportunity to play for someone else, representing another country.
“But I also feel for those who need a chance to get on the international stage and have a better chance. It’s really 22 catches.”