Vunipola: All players are scared of missing Lions cut

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The possibility of being overlooked for the British and Irish Lions this year is a real worry for all hopefuls, insists England number eight Billy Vunipola.

Vunipola returned from over three months out in March after undergoing surgery on a knee injury sustained while representing England, his recovery coming ahead of schedule.

The powerful back-row forward was not at his bulldozing best in Six Nations encounters against Scotland and Ireland, but he remains well positioned for selection by Warren Gatland for the Lions' tour to New Zealand.

Vunipola is adamant there is not a single player who is concerned about missing out, but it is that fear that pushes him to be at his best.

"Everyone says: 'I'm not thinking about the Lions' - they're all lying," he told The Guardian. "It's all the media training, everyone is scared of saying: 'I'm scared of not going.'

"I've had dreams about it. I imagine things like, what would it be like not to be picked, or to be picked, and it's scary.

"It helps motivate me to become extra cautious when I'm preparing and in how I train. If I'm as good as I can be then whatever happens after that I can be happy in myself."

The 24-year-old admits he was jealous of brother Mako Vunipola and cousin Taulupe Faletau taking part in the previous Lions tour to Australia in 2013, though he acknowledges he was never in with a shot of selection.

"It's a dream I've been chasing ever since my England debut. I was envious of my cousin and Mako going in 2013," said Vunipola.

"But I was never in a position to go, so I couldn't get upset. Now I can try my best and see where I end up.

"It's like being the little kid that misses out, or on a night out - you don't want to be the one missing out. Even if you get a fight with your missus, you still want to be on a night out with the boys."