Saracens prop Mako Vunipola hopes for a happy new year after return from injury
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It’s been a 2014 that Mako Vunipola may wish to forget after missing much of the year through injury, but the Saracens and England prop is now back to full fitness and looking forward to the new year.
Vunipola dislocated his knee during Sarries’ Heineken Cup defeat to Toulon in May, missing out on the Aviva Premiership final a week later and then England’s tour to New Zealand.
But, after returning to first-team action in December, the 23-year-old – who has 13 England caps – is aiming to make 2015 a year to remember, both in the colours of Saracens and England with a World Cup on home soil to come in September.
“It was very frustrating being out injured, but hopefully all that is behind me now,” said Vunipola, who is set to continue his comeback when Saracens face London Irish at Allianz Park on Saturday.
“Getting injured in the Heineken Cup final and then missing out on the Premiership final a week later was pretty disappointing – and then also not being part of England’s tour to New Zealand.
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“But I looked to use the time out to good effect and the plan was to come back fitter and stronger. Now I am just happy to be back in the first team again and we’re all looking forward to 2015.
“We go into the new year in a good place in all three competitions and, with a World Cup in September, it’s going to add to the competition domestically for the rest of this season. But I am not thinking too far ahead, I’ll just concentrate on performing well for Saracens.”
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Vunipola was part of the Saracens team that ended 2014 on a high with a 25-23 victory away against Newcastle Falcons at the weekend.
Tries from Neil de Kock, Nick Tompkins and Chris Ashton put the visitors into a strong position, but a late fightback from the home side gave them a chance to level the scores with the final kick of the game. Fortunately for the relieved Saracens fans in the crowd, the kick drifted wide.
“We are pretty happy with the way we played, after turning the game around to put ourselves in such a good position in the final stages,” explained Vunipola.
“We did let ourselves down in the last few minutes in terms of our intensity, and we let them back into the game.
“We know they are a good side, we expected that they would be a challenge for us and they were. We’re just happy to come away with the win.
“For us as a forward pack, we had to front up and take them head on. We just had to do our job, play our way and make sure we came away with the win, and we did that.
“It was a good game. It’s getting easier for me with the more games I play. I’m just really happy to be back out there with the boys and to help them get the win.”