Vunipola remains upbeat over Lions’ prospects

By Dominique Stafford in Rugby

MAKO VUNIPOLA insists that the British and Irish Lions are heading in the right direction despite the stuttering start to their tour of New Zealand.

Tuesday’s 23-22 defeat at the hands of the High-landers was the Lions’ second loss in four matches, but they enjoyed an impressive 12-3 victory over the Crusaders on Saturday in the only match that Sarries prop Vunipola has started on the tour.

The starting line-up for that match is expected to be similar to the Lions’ team for the first of three Tests against the All Blacks later this month, and Vunipola believes that there is plenty for the tourists to be optimistic about.

“This is only a start,” he said. “It was a good hit out, but that is all it is really. The Crusaders are a good team, but the All Blacks are a step up. Hopefully we can review it as a team and see what else we could have done.

“These Super Rugby teams are fantastic and we knew that the Crusaders would be a step up. They are top of their league for a reason. It was a good physical game, we enjoyed it and we are glad to have come out on the right side of it.

“They have got a decent front five and we knew coming into the match that their pack was one of, if not the strongest in the competition. As a forward pack we knew we had to stick together, and I thought we did alright.”

Vunipola added: “From the first two weeks you could see that things were starting to come together. When you come on a Lions tour it is the best of the best, as players we are good enough to adapt to each other.

“It takes a bit of doing in training, but we are here for a reason. We talk about coming together as a pack all week, we have to become the best pack in the world in however long we are together. That is the challenge, to take on not just the All Blacks but all the Super XV teams.”

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