Mako Vunipola has been ruled out of the remainder of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations through injury which will come as a huge blow to Eddie Jones.
The loosehead prop has been in superb form so far in this championship until an ankle ligament injury forced him off in the 44th minute.
He has been ruled out for 10 weeks which means he will also miss Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at home to the Glasgow Warriors and if the English champions successfully navigate that tie, he will be in a race to be fit for the semi-final as well.
The recently turned 28-year-old brings so much to England and Saracens’ game and here, we take a look at some of the numbers Vunipola has posted in recent weeks.
One of the biggest aspects of Vunipola’s game which Jones and Mark McCall look set to miss is his work rate in attack.
The prop often defies the stereotypes related to his position by hitting double figures in the carrying and metres gained stakes.
In the last nine fixtures which Vunipola has played, for both England and Saracens, he has made an average 11 carries with that peaking to a huge 18 carries in a clash with Worcester Warriors at the end of December.
Over the last nine fixtures, Vunipola has carried 98 times for 110 metres gained which equates to an average of 1.12 metres per carry.
However, what the stats don’t tell you is that defenders often have to double up on the loosehead due to his sheer size and power which frees up space elsewhere. His carrying is often a focal point for England and Saracens’ attack on first or second phase before launching a pre-designed move on subsequent phases.
On the other side of the ball, Vunipola is equally as impressive. His incredible engine allows him to get around the park with relative ease and this results in some impressive tackling numbers.
Against Ireland, he made an outstanding 27 tackles in his 76-minute performance as he led the defensive charge which completely stifled Joe Schmidt’s men.
Vunipola, more often than not, hits double figures when it comes to tackling. In six of his last nine appearances, he has made at least 10 tackles in a game with an overall average of 13.4 tackles per game.
While these kinds of statistics only give a snapshot into the overall picture of a player’s performance, it’s clear for everyone to see that Vunipola will be a huge loss to both England and Saracens over the coming weeks.