(Reuters) – Mako Vunipola has vowed to fight his way back into England head coach Eddie Jones’ plans ahead of next year’s Six Nations and World Cup after the prop spent more than two months out of action with a calf injury.
The 27-year-old missed all four of England’s November internationals, with Exeter Chiefs front-row duo Ben Moon and Alec Hepburn starting two tests apiece as the side won three of the matches.
Vunipola was named man-of-the-match after helping Saracens beat Cardiff Blues 51-25 in the Champions Cup on Sunday but said the only way for him to get back into the England team was to keep excelling at club level.
“Whenever someone gets injured it’s an opportunity for someone else,” he told reporters. “That’s how I got a chance.
“To be fair (Moon and Hepburn) came in and did exactly what Eddie and all of the coaches asked of them. I thought Ben came in and pushed really hard, so I’ve got a job to do playing well for Sarries and hopefully put my hand up for selection again.”
After edging South Africa by a point at Twickenham, England lost to New Zealand by a similar margin, before recording convincing victories over Japan and Australia to end November on a high after struggling earlier in the year.
Vunipola, who won his most recent England cap against South Africa on June 16, said regaining full fitness was never going to automatically guarantee him a return to the squad given the level of competition for places.
“No that’s never the case,” he added. “Obviously I’ve had the experience of being in the England camp but for me it’s just playing well for Sarries and doing my bit to keep improving.”
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)