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Saracens 'united' can conquer Europe, Mako Vunipola tells English champions

Mirror logo Mirror 10/05/2019 Alex Spink
a close up of Mako Vunipola in a white shirt: DUBLIN, IRELAND - APRIL 01:  A blooded Mako Vunipola of Saracens looks on during the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter final match between Leinster Rugby and Saracens at the Aviva Stadium on April 1, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) © Getty DUBLIN, IRELAND - APRIL 01: A blooded Mako Vunipola of Saracens looks on during the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter final match between Leinster Rugby and Saracens at the Aviva Stadium on April 1, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Mako Vunipola says adversity has given Saracens the strength to win a third European Cup in four years.

The England prop has seen the Londoners accused of flouting salary cap regulations and brother Billy reprimanded by club and country for showing support of homophobic comments made by fallen Aussie star Israel Folau.

Ahead of tomorrow’s Champions Cup final in Newcastle, Vunipola admits there has been “a lot” to deal with but says the players have tackled it by pulling tight together.

Video: Vunipola booing expected (Sky Sports)

Mako said: “Everyone is entitled to their opinions, you can’t please everyone. We are all individuals and we each have our beliefs.

“But we are rugby players and we are a team and if we want to win a European Cup we can’t do it being apart. We have to be together.

“We spoke about this, addressed it, gave ourselves the choice that either we use it (adversity) to become tighter or we split apart and become individuals. I think our semi-final performance against Munster showed the answer we came up with.”

That day Saracens swatted aside the two-time tournament winners, weathering a storm of jeers and cat calls directed at Billy Vunipola. The more the abuse grew the stronger they became; a fact not lost on tomorrow’s opponents Leinster.

Behind the collective show of defiance have been testing times for the Vunipolas over Billy’s social media declaration that “man was made for woman to procreate, that was the goal, no?”

Also with suggestions, strongly rejected, that their joint company, which has involvement from Saracens owner Nigel Wray, is part of a salary cap-busting initiative by the club.

Mako said: “It’s very hard when you have people pointing fingers, especially when your family read things and don’t really understand what’s going on.

BARNET, ENGLAND - APRIL 15:  Mako Vunipola of Saracens looks on during the Aviva Premiership match between Saracens and Bath Rugby at Allianz Park on April 15, 2018 in Barnet, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) © Getty Images BARNET, ENGLAND - APRIL 15: Mako Vunipola of Saracens looks on during the Aviva Premiership match between Saracens and Bath Rugby at Allianz Park on April 15, 2018 in Barnet, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“What was most disappointing was people thinking of it (VunProp Ltd) as one thing - cheating - and not anything else.

“Rugby is a short career and you have to think about what happens afterwards. I’m quite comfortable that everything is above board. We have spoken to the authorities and given them all the information we have.”

The business of Billy and his controversial beliefs will not go away while the offending post remains on his Instagram page.

View this post on Instagram

So this morning I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post. This is my position on it. I don’t HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect. There just comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough, what he’s saying isn’t that he doesn’t like or love those people. He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no? I’m not perfect I’m at least everything on that list at least at one point in my life. It hurts to know that. But that’s why I believe there’s a God. To guide and protect us and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

A post shared by Billy Vunipola (@vunipola_billy) on

“We sat down as family and talked about it,” admitted Mako. “Billy’s an adult, it’s his choice to make. He has to understand the consequences and I think he now does.”

In Australia there are reports of disunity within the Wallabies team over Folau with some allegedly reluctant to play with him and others feeling their religion is under attack.

Mako insists that will not be a problem for either Saracens or England but concedes: “With social media the public have a lot of access to us as players. You have to be careful with what you say.”

Saracens have never beaten Leinster in Europe, losing all three contests, and the Dublin outfit are 80 minutes from making history with a fifth title.

But the ruthless way in which they disposed of Munster, and Glasgow before them, has caused concern across the Irish Sea.

“It is going to require a lot more than our previous finals,” said Mako. “But physically I think we’re in a much better place than we were last year. Mentally too.”

Gallery: Predicted England squad for the Rugby World Cup (Read Sport)

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