England and Saracens prop Mako Vunipola has responded to reports that he’s interested in representing Tonga at some point in his career.
As a member of an established Tongan rugby dynasty, Mako has made his own mark on the game in a Saracens, England and British & Irish Lions shirt.
And with World Rugby boss Bill Beaumont suggesting players frome tier one nations could also represent tier two countries in the future, the 29-year-old had this sensible point of view.
“When I’m with England, I’m proud to be English, but understanding my heritage is Tongan. Whatever I can do to try and help as much as I can; not just with Tonga but the islands, I do.
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“Obviously I’d love to play for them, but it’s difficult because it would be unfair to those back on the island; to see myself as an old man coming in and taking that opportunity away from them.
‘It’s a catch-22 really. You’d like to see people not being tied down to one (country) and being able to represent those countries – and they’d be better for it – but you’d also like locals to have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves by playing for their country and on the back of that getting contracts overseas.”
LIST | 5 England players who could swap nations for 2023 World Cup
1. Manu Tuilagi (Samoa)
- Current number of caps: 41
- Age at the start of RWC 2023: 32
- Did you know: He was named Manusamoa, after the name of the Samoan national team
The England centre, who was born in Fogapoa and came to the UK at the age of 13, is one of a clutch of Pacific Island players whose eligibility status could change if the restrictions are relaxed. He is the younger brother of Freddie, Henry, Alesana, Anitelea and Sanele Vavae Tuilagi, all of whom are Samoan internationals and also played for Leicester. It would be fantastic for the powerhouse to complete the set.