England's Mako Vunipola wary of Japan

Mako Vunipola has said the memory of how club colleague Alex Lozowski's England career came to an end against Japan means there is no chance of Eddie Jones' men taking the Cherry Blossoms lightly at Twickenham on Saturday.

Four years ago Lozowski missed a tackle on opposing midfielder Ryoto Nakamura and England coach Jones responded by replacing the Saracens centre at half-time and never picking him again.

That last meeting between the teams, which England eventually won 35-15 after being 15-10 behind at half-time, came to be known by some England players as the 'Black Hole Game' after Zach Mercer also won his last cap and Danny Care was forced into four years of international exile that only ended against Australia in July.

Vunipola, asked at England's training base on Wednesday, if what had happened to Lozowski was a reminder to be wary of Japan, replied: "It is. It was tough on Alex and you feel for him.

"Alex has bounced back for Saracens, but it's a reminder that it's a privilege to be here. It's a choice that we're here and it's not a given."

The 31-year-old Vunipola, capped 71 times by England, added: "It's down to Eddie who he picks and we have got to go out there and do our best for the team.

"I didn't play in that Japan game but I watched it and I remember there was certainly an expectation that we'd just turn up and everything's just going to click.

"But Japan are a team who you have to respect because of what they've done in World Cups and they've built on that."

Japan improved significantly under Jones, defeating rugby giants South Africa at the 2015 World Cup before just missing out on a quarter-final place.

Then, with Jones now in charge of England, tournament hosts Japan reached the knockout phase of the 2019 edition.

England back Jack Nowell, who faced Japan at Twickenham four years ago, was adamant there would be no complacency from the hosts this weekend, particularly given thow they started the Autumn Nations Series with a 30-29 loss to Argentina.

"We know we didn't give Japan the respect they deserved last time we played them at home," said Nowell.

"We're treating this as a proper Test match for us and obviously we want a reaction from the Argentina game as well."

Both England and Japan are due to name their matchday squads on Thursday.

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