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Mako Vunipola following Eddie Jones' weight-loss advice to the letter

Mako Vunipola produced his finest rugby for England during the summer tour of Australia but still began the season with a warning from Eddie Jones that read "don't eat too much".

Mako and younger brother Billy face a regular battle to control their weight with their resolve tested most when they visit family in Tonga during the summer.

Every player in contention for the forthcoming Old Mutual Wealth series at Twickenham has been sent a generic letter by Jones that was personalised by some individual instructions from the head coach.

Among the pointers Jones had written down for the elder Vunipola was to avoid a summer blow-out and the 25-year-old loosehead is pleased to have limited his weight gain to only half a stone.

"I was expecting worse so it was all right! I got a letter through saying I'm in contention…. I'm happy to be in contention," Vunipola said.

"Eddie likes to keep us on our toes - everyone got the letter reminding them of what they need to do. My interesting bit was don't eat too much - to lose some weight."

Vunipola was an influential figure during the 3-0 series whitewash of Australia and earned lavish praise from Jones, but having returned to these shores he must now renew his duel with loosehead rival Joe Marler.

Marler ruled himself out of the tour citing the mental fatigue that accumulated during a season stalked by controversy and although he has slipped behind Vunipola in the pecking order, he is fit and determined to win back the starting jersey.

A three-day training camp in Brighton that began on Sunday will see the pair lock horns once more and Vunipola values the competition.

"Having Joe Marler back in the squad is a bonus. He's a good guy, I play some cards with him. He is in good spirits," Vunipola said.

"Joe didn't really change during last season, he kept his private life to himself. He's the same Joe as usual.

"He works hard in training but off the field loves to have a laugh with the boys."

Both players will take part in a judo session on Monday, supervised by British coaches JP Bell and Katie Howie, with the aim of enhancing breakdown skills.

"The last time I did judo I nearly passed out! I did it at an Under-18s camp. That was my first and only experience of it," Vunipola said.

"We had to roll backwards and forwards all the time. I was heavier back in the day, so by the seventh or eighth roll I nearly passed out so they made me stop. Judo's not my game!

"It will be good for all that tackling work around the ball and for grappling at breakdown."

:: Mako Vunipola was speaking ahead of the Old Mutual Wealth Series which starts with England v South Africa on Saturday 12th November 2016


From Belfast Telegraph