Six Nations: England prop Mako Vunipola expects ‘galvanised’ Wales to ‘come out fighting.’
England prop Mako Vunipola believes that England’s Six Nations visit to Cardiff will bring out the best in the Wales players.
Wales players have threatened strike action due to the ongoing contract freeze implemented by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).
Despite the turmoil, Vunipola believes that the Wales players will be galvanised for the match against the Red Rose.
Backs against the wall
Defeats to Ireland and Scotland in the opening two rounds of the Six Nations sees Wales ranked sixth on the overall Six Nations table. However, Vunipola believes that against England, they will be driven by their sense of grievance and the prospect of humbling their fiercest rivals.
“They’ll definitely be a galvanised team. When you have your backs against the wall, there is nothing else to do but to come out fighting,” he said.
“I have no idea what is going on off the field, but on the field, it can only help them make it simple and give it their all.
“We must expect the best out of them. The weeks before – round one and two – they mean nothing.
“You feel the history when you play Wales. The Welsh are not very keen on us. When we play them, we know that we’re always getting their best.
“We know that they’re a good side – and when things aren’t going their way, they’re even better.”
The Principality faifthful
Having worked under Warren Gatland on three British and Irish Lions tours, Vunipola describes the Wales head coach as a “serial winner” and says the crowd will play a big part in the match.
“When the crowd gets behind the Welsh, it obviously lifts them. I definitely feel like the game can very easily get away from you in Cardiff,” the Saracens prop added.
“Individuals are different in the way they react, and when one or two things start going their way, and they get a bit of energy from the crowd, they get behind them, and then we start getting on the back foot.
“What you’ve got to learn from that is to stick together and get even tighter and make sure that we’re not trying to solve it ourselves individually.
“Go back to the basics, the foundations of our game, and try and claw back the momentum.”
There has been a major focus on England’s set piece since Steve Borthwick took charge of the side in December. The side will aim to improve further after being rated the worst scrum out of the tier one nations in 2022.
“We knew the scrum wasn’t where we wanted it to be, but we didn’t realise how bad it was. There was a bit of a shock,” Vunipola said.
“As a group of front rows, we take pride in the scrum, so that was tough to hear. We’ve had to look at ourselves on a deeper level.”
England head to Cardiff in Round Three of the Six Nations, with the clash against Wales kicking off at 16:45 on Saturday, February 25.
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