England and Saracens star Mako Vunipola remembering when they were Kings of Lyon to inspire victory

England and Saracens star Mako Vunipola remembering when they were Kings of Lyon to inspire victory

MAKO VUNIPOLA has been studying highlights of the day Saracens became Kings of Lyon as he attempts to become the Prince of Paris.

Chasing a record-equalling fourth Champions Cup, holders Sarries have one last crack at silverware for a year.

Even a semi-final victory against French galacticos Racing 92 on Saturday, to reach a fourth final in five years, would not be enough to see them defend another title.

Having already been relegated to the Championship for cheating the Premiership salary cap, Sarries will kiss goodbye to their first love.

So before it all ends, Vunipola has been going back to the start and that historic day in Lyon four years ago, against Dan Carter's Racing.

The 29-year-old star said: "Sometimes I think back to that game and I've watched it back a lot as well.

"You watch it and think: 'How did we get away with winning it playing like that'.

"This is a great opportunity for us to make another memory and that was probably one of the best memories.

"This is our last opportunity to win silverware. Not just this year but for a while.

We knew we had to cross that big hurdle of winning it for the first time, but when we did that we wanted to keep doing it again.

"The Champions Cup is dear to us because we’ve had a few heartaches in it, but we’ve also had the delight of winning it.

"And some boys at the club are leaving who have been big names and big players for us – who have done so much for the club that you can’t measure it – so we want to go out there and make more memories with them.

Vunipola has been a central part of the hat-trick of Euro titles won by Mark McCall's unstoppable dynasty.

But their red-hot run of success, now tainted by being domestic salary-cap cheats, only came about after set-backs – most painfully in 2014.

Now they have the chance to match the sides that they dreamt of becoming.

Vunipola admitted: "I remember after we lost the Premiership and European final, we spoke about wanting to be in the same league as Leinster and Toulouse – teams like that.

"Whenever people talk about the Champions Cup, those are the sort of teams people think of as the best in Europe and we wanted to be in that conversation.

"We knew we had to cross that big hurdle of winning it for the first time, but when we did that we wanted to keep doing it again.

"Now we want to go out there and enjoy this moment with the people around us because we don’t know when we might get this chance again.

"You want to be semi-finals, you want to be in these knock-out games, so it’s not so much a challenge for us as an opportunity, not just to reach the same level again but to raise it."

Saracens have reached the semi-finals seven times, with Racing only here for the third time – having lost both their finals.

But with Finn Russell and Virimi Vakatawa bringing stardust to the backs – and Wenceslas Lauret and Vunipola's opposite man, 22-year-old Georges-Henri Colombe bringing the grunt – they are a team who have it all.

Vunipola added: "They have a lot of ball players, but also some big boys, not only up front but out wide as well.

"With those big hard runners they are able to have a bit of magic as well. And as a pack of forwards, we have to take them on up front.

"With the world class players they have it is a difficult job, but it is an exciting opportunity to see if we can raise the bar again."

Source: Read Full Article