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England 14:30 New Zealand

Former Fiji fly-half Nicky Little speaks to Sky Sports about Mako Vunipola, forwards and playing at Twickenham

By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC.   Last Updated: 06/11/12 10:47am

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Fiji legend Nicky Little is hoping to see rising star Mako Vunipola make his England debut in Saturday's QBE International at Twickenham.

Little was part of the last Fiji team to play against England back in 1999 - with the mercurial fly-half landing three conversions in the 45-24 Rugby World Cup quarter-final play-off defeat.

However 13 years on he will be an interested spectator when the two sides meet for only the eighth time since 1973.

Although Little's natural allegiance lies with Fiji, having been capped 71 times, he still lives in England - and after spells playing for Bath, Saracens, Sale and Bristol he is now the director of rugby at two schools in Canterbury.

And it is during his time at Bristol that he renewed acquaintances with the Vunipola family - with Little having played against the Saracens prop's father Fe'ao, who captained Tonga.

"I would love to see my old friend Mako Vunipola get to have a run out," Little told Sky Sports.

"This will make me sound really old but I played against his dad about a million times and when I moved to Bristol, Mako was just a young lad there. Like all island boys I took him under my wing. He is a good lad.

"Mako knows what he needs to do. He will go out and do a job every time."


Although just 21, Vunipola has already caught the eye with a series of impressive displays - and is pushing hard for a first international cap.

But Little would love to see Fiji producing more players like Vunipola themselves.

While, as you expect from a side that has the nickname 'the Flying Fijians', finding pacy backs has never been an issue, the 36-year-old admits the pack is their Achilles heel.

"We never have any problems producing quality wingers, we just need to start producing front rowers and having a quality structure in place," he said. "It is the same problem that doesn't seem to get answered.

"I have thought long and hard about it and I end up going around in circles. We need some forward structure to build on."

Having lost all their previous encounters against England - three friendlies and four official Tests - Fiji face a big ask to upset the odds.

However Little believes that the squad can make the most of the occasion as they have no pressure on them.

He added: "It will be a big task for England! In truth, though, we are under no illusions. We can go out and enjoy it. Twickenham is a great place to play. It will be a big lift for us and a big challenge too."

Nicky Little was speaking at the launch of the QBE Internationals. QBE, the business insurance specialist, is proud to sponsor the QBE Internationals and be Official Insurance Partner of England Rugby. For more information visit

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