Mako Vunipola hails Saracens’ flair for flexibility

Will Macpherson
Tackling machine: Vunipola: Getty Images

Saracens’ England stars hot-footed it down to Bristol on Sunday night to join the national team's training camp after helping their side continue their perfect start.

The club claimed their fourth straight bonus-point victory as they saw off Gloucester 38-15 at Allianz Park in what was by far their most commanding performance of the season so far.

Of their England contingent — some of whom were playing in unfamiliar positions — Mako Vunipola’s 17 tackles won him the man-of-the-match award and Maro Itoje, playing at blindside, scored two tries and made 15 tackles.

Durban-born Michael Rhodes, who recently qualified for England, slipped seamlessly across to the open side and appeared everywhere, with 10 carries and 17 tackles.

Vunipola says a major factor behind Saracens’ success is that their players can adapt to different roles and the moment that best encapsulated this was when hooker Jamie George filled in at scrum-half to put through a dinked box-kick.

“We are so lucky that all those guys can play in most positions,” said Vunipola. “We all have to do everything and we have guys who do that very well and adapt to the game situation.

“We are really pleased with how we started the season, having talked about raising our intensity.”

Vunipola believes Rhodes will make a major impression on Eddie Jones over the next two days in Bristol. “I’m biased but I see what he brings and it’s great he is getting this recognition,” he said.

“He has what it takes at that level and has nothing to lose.”

Behind Vunipola, Itoje and Rhodes, Owen Farrell pulled the strings expertly from fly-half and had a hand in three of Sarries’ five tries.

“Owen was incredibly influential,” said Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall. “It wasn’t just his skillset, it was the way he throws himself into big contact.”