December 7 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
England forwards coach Graham Rowntree has backed maturing prop Mako Vunipola to thrive against Australia in Saturday’s opening QBE International at Twickenham.
Vunipola’s scrummaging was exposed by the Wallabies during last summer’s British and Irish Lions tour and, with Alex Corbisiero sidelined by a knee injury, he will start the Cook Cup clash at loosehead.
But Rowntree insists the Saracens front row has benefited from the introduction of new scrum laws this season.
“Now everything in the scrum is closer and the pre-binding has really aided Mako, like it has with a lot of other props. I’m delighted with how everyone has got to grips with it,” Rowntree said.
“Mako is maturing with experience and he’s had some big experiences over the last year.
“Last autumn was his first involvement with us and look what he’s done since.
“He’s still got things to do and get better at, but he knows that. He’s learned from his experiences.”
Australia’s scrum was dismantled by the Lions in the decisive third Test in Sydney - Corbisiero did most of the damage - but Rowntree insists England know better than to underestimate the tourists.
“I’d have said yes that the third Test showed the weakness in their scrum until I saw their recent performances,” Rowntree said.
“In Argentina they were down to seven men and the Pumas were baying for their blood, but they survived that scrum and I’ve seen occasions where they’ve scrummaged well over the last month.
“This time last year I was asked the same question about the scrum and they out-scrummaged us. I’m taking nothing for granted from what I saw in the Lions series.”