'You just have to show respect' - Mako Vunipola on facing the haka

The Lions star looked pretty nonchalant.

THE CRUSADERS WELCOMED the Lions to Christchurch on Saturday morning with a unique haka which reportedly contained a reference to heart-eating.

But the Wellington-born player Mako Vunipola was pictured looking decidedly unimpressed by the ritual as he waited to make his first start of the tour.

The England international played his part in an encouraging win for Warren Gatland’s side and will hope to face more hakas before the tour ends.

“As players, there’s not much you can do,” he said of facing the hosts before kick-off.

“You just have to show respect. I was just doing my normal face. Maybe next time I’ll give it a bit more attention. Facing the haka as a player is one of those spectacular things. They’re laying the challenge down and I just think about my first job.

“You look at the players and you see them but you just stand there, and give them respect. To have that many players doing the same thing at the same time is pretty cool. I try to be as relaxed as I can be and take it all in.”

Mako Vunipola celebrates winning Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The win in Christchurch saw some of Ireland’s top players make their mark with Vunipola singling Tadhg Furlong out for praise.

“When you come on a Lions tour it is the best of the best,” he told reporters. “As players we know we are good enough too adapt to each other. It takes a bit of going in training, but we are here for a reason. T’s work-rate is unbelievable and you saw he was a massive anchor for us. We build our scrum around him and fair play to him, he keeps going.”

The 12-3 win over a side who are unbeaten in Super Rugby this season saw the tourists get back to winning ways after defeat in midweek.

“We didn’t talk about the critics that much” Vunipola said of the reaction in the past few days. ”It is key for us as a team to ignore the outside noise, the stuff going on outside, and focus in on what we need to do as a team. We know that things were being said about us, but we were frustrated with the result on Wednesday as well. It was more of a case that the 23 that went out there today went out to try and do their best for the 41.”

With reporting from Murray Kinsella

Source: The42 Rugby Show/SoundCloud

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