Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Vunipola graduated from the Bristol Academy and went to Porth County Community School.
Aged just seven, Vunipola emigrated to Wales when his father Fe’ao, a hooker, signed to play for Pontypool in 1998. Fe’ao went on to win 32 caps for Tonga, including appearances in the 1995 and 1999 Rugby World Cup tournaments.
Mako, and his younger brother Viliami, better known as ‘Billy’, who now plays for London Wasps, grew up in the same household as Wales No 8 Toby Faletau and was raised playing rugby throughout Gwent before attending Millfield School and joining the Bristol Rugby Academy.
England U20s Vunipola was a new signing for Saracens at the start of the 2011/12 season after making the move from Championship outfit Bristol.
A regular for the U20s side in the past year, he played in every game in the IRB World Junior Championships in Italy in the summer of 2011 that saw England lose to New Zealand in the final.
He had a spell on loan at Bedford Blues and was elevated to the England Saxons squad last summer before winning his first senior cap against Fiji in November, 2012, as a replacement for Joe Marler. He then played off the bench in seven consecutive matches for England before starting against Italy in March this year.
Remarkably, six of Mako’s uncles and his grandfather represented their native country. Fe’ao was head coach of High Wycombe and then Marlow before returning to Tonga.