Mako Vunipola has been declared fit for Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup final against Leinster on Saturday after winning his battle with injury.
Vunipola has been troubled by successive ankle problems that first struck during the Six Nations and the European player of the year nominee played 62 minutes of last month’s semi-final victory over Munster.
That has been the only appearance of his comeback after he was forced to withdraw from Saracens’ line-up before facing Wasps 11 days ago.
But Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has confirmed the Lions prop is available for selection to face the European champions with the only uncertainty hovering over flanker Michael Rhodes, who is struggling with a back problem.
“Mako looks good and has come through training very well. We fully expect him to be playing,” McCall said. “Michael Rhodes has a stiff back so we’ll make a decision later in the week about him. Other than that we’re OK, everyone else is fit and well.”
Mako Vunipola has been troubled by successive ankle problems that first struck during the Six Nationshttps://t.co/pn9j2dN5OC
— PA Sport (@pasport) May 7, 2019
Scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, who made his 100thEuropean appearance in Sarries’ semi-final victory over Munster, is excited by the contest and insists there isn’t much between the two teams.
“It’s probably the final everyone wanted. Two top teams will be going at it, the reason you play the game,” he said.
“It’s going to be a fascinating battle. You have so much respect for Leinster, remembering how they did us in the quarter-final last year. They are well coached and well led by Johnny Sexton, but it’s the little things with them, how quickly they get off the ground and how hard they work.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) May 7, 2019
“They do not have any ‘dead men’ and so have few weaknesses. Both teams have very good set pieces and great defences; the differences are not big, just subtle ones people may be able to pick up on the day.”
Saracens won the tournament back-to-back in 2016 and 2017 before Leinster went on to win the trophy for a fourth time last time out. Many players who featured on those occasions will go head-to-head this weekend, experience Wigglesworth feels could make it the best final ever.
“Because we’ve had so much success everyone forgets what we went through to get here. We suffered a lot of pain in Europe before winning in the Lyon rain (in 2016). The feeling that day was relief because we had put it to bed. The best thing now is that there is no sense of panic; that is not bought but comes from experience. We can react to pressure and get the job done.
“When we lost before, it tended to be because we were unable to cope with it but, if Leinster win, it will be because they were the better team. Both sides have so much experience and class that it could be the best final ever.”
– Press Association
WATCH: The RugbyPass documentary when Leinster were in the 2018 PRO14 final
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.