Leicester Tigers insist they would have “no issues” with Saracens if they decide to pick Mako Vunipola for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match between the teams despite England’s decision to ban the loosehead prop from their Pennyhill Park training base due to concerns over coronavirus.
Vunipola and younger brother Billy recently flew back from Tonga where they were visiting a sick relative and spent a short period in Hong Kong’s international airport, triggering a reaction from England’s medical experts.
Despite Vunipola being chosen by Eddie Jones in a 34-man squad due to start training last Monday to face Wales this Saturday, the medics insisted the player could not be allowed to join up with the squad.
His club Saracens, though, have taken a very different stance and it means that instead of helping England in the Six Nations championship, the British and Irish Lions Test series prop will be on duty at Allianz Park against the Tigers.
A Leicester Tigers spokesman told RugbyPass: “Leicester Tigers have no issues with the situation regarding Mako Vunipola and, like all clubs, will follow any directive received from Premiership Rugby and its medical advisors.”
(Continue reading below…)
The confusing Mako Vunipola fallout
Saracens are adamant they are following the correct protocols with Vunipola and his brother who is currently out of action and recovering from a fourth arm break.
Having defended their approach regarding the handling of the Vunipola brothers with a statement issued on Wednesday morning, they released a Thursday update about future home games this season, including their use of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the end of March league clash with London rivals Harlequins.
The statement read: “Saracens is monitoring the ongoing global outbreak of coronavirus, also known as covid-19, and decisions regarding the fulfilment of fixtures will be made with the safety of spectators, teams, officials and broadcast partners at the forefront.
“The club is in active dialogue with Premiership Rugby who are in turn receiving advice from the World Health Organisation and Public Health England.
“At present, all matches hosted by Saracens at Allianz Park and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium are proceeding as planned. Should the situation change fans will be advised through Club channels including e-mail, website and social media.”
WATCH: Jim Hamilton reflects on what has become one of the most bizarre seasons in rugby history
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now