Mako pleased with attitude of front row rivals

Mako Vunipola says new front row duo Alec Hepburn and Lewis Boyce have brought good attitude and high energy to England’s training camp ahead of their NatWest 6 Nations opener against Italy next weekend.

Hepburn and Boyce were among eight uncapped players named in head coach Eddie Jones’ 35-man Six Nations squad, and since linking up with the team, Vunipola has been impressed with his fellow props.

“They have come in with a good attitude, they’re always willing to listen and always prepared to ask questions which is the main thing,” said Vunipola.

“The little things we have done so far, they have taken on board and learnt. It is good; they have brought energy - I don’t think I brought that when I was 20.”


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England begin their title defence against Italy on Sunday 4 February in Rome, as they look to become the first team to win the competition three times in a row.

Mako on Hepburn: “He has a lot of knowledge of things you wouldn’t really read up on. He’s quite funny and loves a good story.”

And with a long list of injuries, Jones has called on the Exeter Chief and Harlequin to play an integral part - a role Vunipola says he will do everything he can to prepare them for.

“There’s a few things they need to learn and I’ve been trying to help them out as much as I can,” the 27-year-old added.

“This week has been a little bit different where we have done more off the pitch, but those two work well together, they’re learning off of each other.

“They come here on the same platform and it is up to them whether they put their hand up. They are both very athletic players."

Mako on Boyce: “He’s been quieter than Alec, but as you can see he is a big northern lad, just come down to London so the way he talks is pretty funny.” 


With 44 Test caps to his name, as well as two British & Irish Lions tours under his belt, Vunipola oozes international experience and has grown into a destructive ball-carrier in the loose and a ballast of the England scrum.

The NatWest 6 Nations spans seven weeks, and with little cover for the Saracen, question marks have surrounded his Test match stamina. But when asked about endurance, Vunipola is quick to dismiss any doubts.

"We are all able to play a full 80, it is just whether Eddie feels another player can add something else, or if we need someone to add some energy to the team.

"Whatever we as players are required to do we will do it, but the training we do here is based on being able to do 80 minutes."