Moving to Australia in 2012 with barely any English, Vunipola Fifita never pictured himself representing Australia on the World stage.
This Wednesday, the Tongan-born prop will face his biggest challenge yet, as the Australian pack looks to tame the English scrum in the Australia U20s’ final pool game of the World Rugby U20s Championship.
Receiving a scholarship to attend renowned Sydney Rugby nursery Newington College, through the school’s partnership with Tongan brother school Tupou College, Vunipola made the move to Australia on his own at the age of 15 with the hopes of developing his rugby.
After representing the Australian Schoolboys in 2014, strong performances for NSW Gen Blue in the Super U20sand his Shute Shield club Randwick have seen the specialist loosehead earn selection in the Australian U20s.
After pushing his way into the starting line-up, Fifita has enjoyed forming a new combination with Melbourne hooker Jordan Uelese and Brumbies squad member Tyrel Lomax in the opening two matches of the tournament.
“Our scrum has been going well, we have a few tactical things to work on but you can see we have been building a good relationship in the forward pack which is helping the scrum come together. We just need to work as a collective heading into the England game,” Fifita said.
“We take pride in our performance as a front-row. I wasn’t starting in the matches in Australia but I’ve been lucky enough to start against Scotland and Italy. I’m comfortable with Jordan and Tyrell, we’re forming a good combination.”
Heading into Saturday’s game, continued pressure and performance at set-piece will be the key for the Australian forwards, allowing the backline a solid platform for attack.
“We spoke about it in the game preview meeting, we have to take it to England from the first scrum. They’re a big heavy pack and we need to be consistent with our performance throughout the match," Fifita said.
While representing Australia in England, Fifita’s relatives Mako and Billy Vunipola are in Australia representing England in their June Test series.
Currently his cousins have bragging rights following England’s first up win over the Wallabies, but Fifita has the chance to reinstate a level playing field on Wednesday night.
For Fifita, he is soaking up the experience of the tournament and the opportunity to represent his adopted country.
“It’s been really good to be over here in the United Kingdom with the team. It’s a real honour and privilege to represent Australia,” he said.
Australia will face England in their final pool game of the tournament on Wednesday, kicking off at 4:45am AEST LIVE on FOXSPORTS 2 502.