Lions tour: Wellington Test a homecoming for British and Irish Lions prop Mako Vunipola

  • 01/07/2017

The second Test against the All Blacks will be a homecoming of some sorts for Lions prop Mako Vunipola.

The 26-year-old was born in Wellington and spent the first nine years of his life living in the capital, before his family moved to the Northern Hemisphere.

However this is the first time the England international has been back home since leaving all those years ago.

"When I was growing up I admit I used to watch the All Blacks and be in love with them. Mostly because of Jonah Lomu," said Vunipola.

"Obviously with him being of Tongan heritage, I always wanted to be like him.

"Being born in Wellington as well, I've got a lot of family here and this is actually the first time I've been back since I left as a child."

His father Fe'ao played rugby for Tonga and participated at two Rugby World Cups, and wanted his son to be like another All Black from the same era.

"Yeah, he used to joke around that I was the next Olo Brown when I was younger. Didn't have a clue who he was [but] obviously the older I got [the more] I knew who he was."

The Lions failed to front during the first Test at Eden Park, and are now in must win territory if they want to keep the series alive.

Vunipola insists the Lions will show more fight to keep the series alive and try force a decider in Eden Park.

"After last week we know what we need to work on and what we need to improve on and we are excited about the challenge in front of us.

"The biggest focus for us as a forward pack is we know they took us on up front and got the upper hand so it is up to us to stand up to them.

"For us it is the emotional energy that we have to bring, we know the task in front of us is immense but it is about us as a forward pack sticking together as a collective.

"As a player, if you don’t have that right emotional energy and desire to play at this level then obviously you are in the wrong sport."