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Ex-All Black Jerome Kaino reveals the ‘toughest’ Lions player he faced

“He has no hand brake, he just keeps on going and going.”

Former All Black Jerome Kaino has identified Mako Vunipola as the toughest player he faced during the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017.

Kaino started in all three tests for New Zealand against the Lions four years ago, and is something of a hard man himself, putting in plenty of bone-shuddering hits throughout his 83-cap career for his country.

The formidable back-row forward was speaking to RugbyPass about his encounters with the Lions and picked out the elder Vunipola brother as the toughest player he encountered in those tests.

All Black Jerome Kaino names the toughest player he faced during the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

“Maro [Itoje] was pretty tough. But I’d have to say someone that kept on coming was Mako Vunipola. He has no hand brake, he just keeps on going and going,” Kaino explained.

“Loves to get the ball in his hand. To try to stand in front of him and get a shot on him is impossible. He’s so solid. He’s a brick of a man. He’d be up there as the toughest in the tests that I played.”

Jerome Kaino Lions

Kaino’s first encounter with the Lions.

Kaino, who helped Toulouse win the Heineken Champions Cup at the weekend at the age of 38, also played against the Lions when they toured New Zealand back in 2005.

The sizeable flanker first played against the touring side for Auckland, and fondly remembers that special day, despite the Lions claiming a narrow 17-13 victory.

The New Zealander, who was just 22 at the time, swapped jerseys with England and Lions forward Martin Corry, and revealed that he has managed to hold onto the jersey some 16 years later.

Jerome Kaino Lions

‘I’ve still got Martin Corry’s jersey.’

“I remember playing against the Lions for Auckland and coming off the bench. It was like playing for the All Blacks,” Kaino recalled.

“We were in an Auckland hotel and the ‘Barmy Army’ were singing outside. The good thing about it was when we came out, everyone was cheering us as we walked out to the bus.

“I’ve still got Martin Corry’s jersey from that game. That was quite special me. I made it a goal to make the All Blacks for that series but I wasn’t good enough but to be able to experience that and play against the Lions, that was awesome.”

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