Vunipola says Sarries must be wary of Wasps’ wingers Wade and Varndell
PUBLISHED: 10:00 28 March 2013
Mako Vunipola believes Christian Wade is close to and England call-up and believes that’s a good enough reason to make him and deadly wing partner Tom Varndell both marked men when Saracens travel to London Wasps in the Premiership on Saturday.
The prop put in a man-of-the-match shift on Sunday as he and a full complement of returning Six Nations stars helped Sarries lay down a huge marker with a dominant 27-12 victory over reigning champions Harlequins to officially open their new Allianz Park home.
It extended the Hendon side’s lead at the summit of the league to five points, all but placing one foot in the play-offs with four games of the regular season to play. While a top-two finish remains a priority for them in order to secure a home semi-final, Wasps are still hoping to join them in the end-of-season shake-up.
They sit seven points off the pace so a victory is vital for the Adams Park outfit to maintain their outside chances of honours.
They have the firepower to cause even the stubborn Saracens defence - which has conceded just 17 tries in 18 games - some problems as Varndell and Wade have notched up 21 scores between them this term.
The latter’s emergence as a marksman saw him named in England’s 42-man squad for summer trip to South Africa where he made three uncapped appearances, plus another against the Barbarians in May, while he played for England Saxons in January’s 14-10 victory over Ireland Wolfhounds.
The summer tour to Argentina looks to be the 21-year-old’s best shot at a Test debut, where he could join Vunipola who is arguably a shoe-in for selection after making a dramatic impact on the international scene, featuring in the autumn internationals and all of England’s Six Nations fixtures to rack up nine caps despite never having made a Premiership start before this campaign.
“He’s pushing his claim but it’s not my decision to make,” said the 22-year-old said of Wade’s Red Rose future, adding: “As a player he’s got to keep his head down and work hard, like myself, but he’s definitely doing the right things to put his hand up for it.”
For now the Sarries loose-head’s focus is on domestic affairs and he hopes his side can replicate the weekend’s rearguard that shut out Quins in order to relegate the two Wasps’ speedsters to the fringes of the contest.
“As a team they’ve got the players to finish off any tries with Varndell and Wade so we’ll be looking at them, but we’ve got to concentrate on ourselves,” he said.
“We know they are a top four side on their day so we are going to put out a performance that hopefully rivals Harlequins and come out with a win.
“We know that, going away, Wasps is going to be a different challenge and one we are really looking forward to.”