Mum's the word for title-chasing star Vunipola

England's Billy Vunipola charges through the Ireland defence.England's Billy Vunipola charges through the Ireland defence.
England's Billy Vunipola charges through the Ireland defence.
Billy Vunipola insists the fear of telling his mum he is to move in with his girlfriend is causing more sleepless nights than the final hurdle in England's Grand Slam quest.

Vunipola’s rampaging form has been instrumental to winning a first RBS 6 Nations title since 2011 and if they topple France, they will have ended their 13-year wait to be acclaimed as the dominant force in Europe.

Rather than being over-awed by the stakes in Paris on Saturday, Vunipola is more concerned at knowing he must eventually leave the squad’s Surrey training base and inform his family he will no longer be living with brother Mako.

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“I don’t think I should say this because I don’t think my mum knows, but I’m actually looking to move out and into a new house,” said Vunipola.

“My Mrs will be living with me – that’s the thing my mum doesn’t know and this is probably the best way to tell her! That’s what’s occupying my mind at the moment – it’s probably more stressful than England to be honest.

“Playing is less stressful than worrying about something I actually don’t want to do, but I’m being pushed into. Being with England is a good escape for me.

“I wish I could just stay here, but I can’t. Eddie Jones loves it here. We could be next door neighbours! If anyone has a house to sell in St Albans please get in touch!”

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England have seized Ireland’s crown with a round to spare in Jones’s first season at the helm, but to win the Six Nations while failing to land the Grand Slam would be an anti-climax should France defy the form book in the final match of the tournament.

After Scotland had dispatched Les Blues – a result that delivered the title to Twickenham – the squad gathered in the hotel bar of their Surrey training camp to discuss the week ahead over a few beers.

“Sunday night was good, but it was more about realising we had won the Six Nations but had to move on straight away,” said Vunipola.

“It was important for us to draw a line, get into France straight away and focus on that next game.

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“Winning the Grand Slam will definitely be a boost... I’ve seen a lot of stuff written about bonuses, so it would definitely boost the boys’ bank accounts!

“But that’s not important right now – we’re just trying to win every game that we play for England.

“You always want to end on a high. A big message from us this week is to try to finish it off. We’re approaching it as we would every other game. The boys are ready to go.

“The biggest and most important message is that nothing changes from last week. Or the previous weeks. If we start relaxing that’s where things go wrong.

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“We have to keep everything the same and improve on it, not relax and fall back on last week and the week before because things can change really quickly.

“It’s important we draw a line under the title. We realise we have won the trophy, but I don’t think it will feel as good if we don’t complete the job and win every game, which we set out to do.

“That was our target and we’re on course for it. We just have to keep our heads on it, which is probably the biggest point.”

England have retained a third hooker at their Surrey training camp.

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Sale’s Tommy Taylor has been included alongside captain Dylan Hartley and Luke Cowan-Dickie in a 26-man squad ahead of the team announcement due tomorrow afternoon.

Hartley sat out yesterday afternoon’s training session, leading to fears he could be an injury doubt for the visit to the Stade de France.

The only previous occasion when England kept three hookers after trimming their squad was in the build-up to the Wales clash when Jamie George’s biceps injury made him a doubt. George was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament the following day.

However, an England spokesman stated that Hartley trained in the morning and his absence from the afternoon’s session was merely to limit his work-load.

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Added to the 23 who toppled Wales 25-21 on Saturday are prop Matt Mullan and full-back Alex Goode. Mullan has been kept as Joe Marler faces a disciplinary hearing today for striking Wales’ Rob Evans and could also be banned for calling Evans’ team-mate Samson Lee “gypsy boy”.

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