The Mark McCall prediction about the departing Vunipola brothers


Mark McCall has predicted what Billy and Mako Vunipola might be able to do in rugby when their playing careers are over. Saracens confirmed on Tuesday that the 31- and 33-year-old brothers will leave Premier League club Gallagher at the end of this season.

There should be plenty of rugby days ahead of the pair elsewhere, but their current Director of Rugby has suggested that both are capable of becoming coaches to be reckoned with when they finally retire from playing.

“They are two of the keenest rugby minds I have ever come across in players,” McCall confirmed as he on Tuesday hosted the last regular-season media briefing of the season ahead of next Saturday's home clash with Sale.

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“Two people who can continue to train if they choose to go this route because their innate understanding and knowledge of the game is so strong.

“Certainly for us, we are two great players, two great people, and both are at the heart of everything the club has achieved.”

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McCall admitted to having some initial chats with Vunipolas about coaching. “A little but not a lot at the moment because all eyes are on the task at hand,” he said, referring to Saracens’ ambition to retain the Premier League title in 2022/23.

“The player has to show an appetite for it. There is no point in forcing someone to go down that path. Most clubs do a good job of making sure players think about what they will do when their careers are over.

“I'm not sure if Mako and Billy's careers are coming to an end yet… but I'm sure Mako and Billy have a good idea of ​​what they want to do when they retire from rugby.”

In a club statement earlier on Tuesday confirming Mako's impending exit, McCall said: “Few players change the way they play their positions. Mako's all-round skill set, rugby intelligence and physical abilities have made us, as coaches, rethink what can be achieved by Loose prop.

When asked to explain this rethink, McCall said: “Maybe I'm being unfair about loose props before Macko arrived whenever it was in 2011.

“But his skill level, his ability to do things with the ball, his ability to see space, occupy space, I think you suddenly saw props in the world to have those same attributes where maybe that wasn't quite the case before.”

What about Billy and his notable features? “I think you only need to watch a few films in his career to see it. I don't want to say one thing, but Billy was for a while the No. 18 player in the world. I think everyone knows that.”

While the Vunipola brothers will play elsewhere in 2024/25, most likely across the Channel in France where they have been linked with Montpellier, McCall added that their ties with Saracens will continue.

“It's really important,” he said on a day when it was also confirmed that Manu Vunipola, their cousin, would also exit the Muslims. “In Billy and Mako's case, it's been a decade of their lives. It's a big part of your life when you're only 31, and that's a third of your life spending in this building with us day in and day out.”

“Sometimes you see the playing group and the coaching staff more than you see your family. You can't underestimate the power of those relationships.

“That's why there's some sadness of course that we won't be able to see them as much but they're not gone yet and fortunately we can look forward to extending our time together by at least two weeks (by reaching the Premier League final).” . This is something we are really looking forward to.

“What we've always said here is that we want to look back at our time at the club as the best times of our lives, but it doesn't have to end when you leave the club.

“They will always be part of the club, and a lot of the memories Billy and Mako will make will be off the pitch. They have had some unforgettable moments on the pitch with the club, but they have also had some great moments with their friends.

“There are always characters coming in the back, there always are. One of the things I have to pay tribute to is Billy and Mako, which is the work they have done with our younger group. They want to leave a proper legacy behind them, and part of that legacy is helping the young players develop and emerge.” Under the surface.

“They both take the time to spend time with them to help them with their game. They help them on the field, they help them off the field and we're very grateful to them for that.”





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