The second-row was called up to the England squad in the summer of 2021
London Irish lock Chunya Munga
Date of birth 2 September 2000 Born Reading Position Lock Club London Irish Country England
When did you first play rugby?
I started at ten at my local club Reading Abbey. But I was training with the age group above as I was quite big for my age and when those boys qualified to contact I had another year of touch. I took a little sabbatical for a year, then started again when I was 12 and allowed to do contact.
What are your strengths?
This is really bad for an interview as I don’t think anyone turns up to hear about ruck cleans! It’s a bit old school but I love scrumming and the lineout. They’re not my strengths yet, but there are some serious operators at the club to help. I like having the ball in hand and my defence is a work-on, to make myself more impactful in defence.
Any age-grade honours?
England U18. I didn’t initially get picked for the U20s, I don’t think I was ready so it was a fair call, but I then played against Ireland at Franklin’s Gardens, which was awesome. I was a bit of a one-cap wonder as Covid knocked off the rest of the season.
What’s playing in the Premiership like?
London Irish is a club I’ve followed since I was 12, so to play for them is a bit nuts. It’s definitely a step up from anything I’ve ever played before – fast, physical – but it’s a great experience.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Family-wise, definitely my mum, Lisa. She raised my sister and I by herself, so when things are tough for me in training or playing, I think of my mum getting us to where we are now; that’s a motivator.
Coaching-wise, if you ask any of the academy forwards in my age group they’d say Jon Fisher. A very good coach.
What are your goals?
I’ve always said my goal is to be the best player I can be. I also want to be the best son for my mum, best brother to my sister.
What do you do away from rugby?
I’ve just finished my first year of a business economics degree at Surrey uni. I describe it as my side hustle!
RW Verdict: After making his Premiership debut last August as a teenager, London Irish lock Chunya Munga has continued to gain experience in an exciting, young Exiles team. He has also caught Eddie Jones’s eye, being called into the senior England set-up in June 2021.
This article originally appeared in Rugby World’s August 2021 edition.
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