Mako Vunipola says England injuries create chances for younger players

Mako Vunipola thinks England's injury crisis gives younger players a great opportunity to prove themselves at the Six Nations.

Mako Vunipola says England’s injury crisis will offer a “great opportunity” for the younger players to prove themselves during the Six Nations.

England face missing up to 20 players due to injury for the opening game of their Six Nations defence against Italy on February 4, including Mike Brown, Henry Slade and Billy Vunipola.

But Vunipola insists the squad are unfazed by the lengthy list of absentees and thinks it could be a chance for those who would not normally be involved to show their worth to Eddie Jones.

“There’s a few new faces, but for us our focus is solely on Italy next week and, if anything, it’s a great opportunity for the people that come in to put their hand up,” Vunipola told Sky Sports News, when asked about the youthful look of the squad.

“It’s obviously tough losing players that’ve been involved and key players, but it’s part of the game and that’s how as a squad we grow.

“Hopefully we can challenge for the Six Nations but our main aim is to do as well as we can against Italy and hopefully go out their and show an improvement from the autumn series.”

Vunipola says his brother, Billy, who is out of the Six Nations with a fractured forearm, is hungry to get back to full fitness after being ruled out for 12 weeks.

“He’s eager to get back and work, he knows it’s part of the game,” Mako Vunipola added, when asked about his brother’s injury.

“He’s got good people around him and he’s recovering well. When you miss so much rugby you just want to get back out there and to do that he has to recover well and properly – he knows that now having learnt a few lessons from when he was younger.

“Like I said he’s got good people around him so when he needs a kick they’ll be there.”