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Mako Vunipola on verge of signing for Vannes

By Neil Fissler
(Photo by Ben Whitley/PA Images via Getty Images)

Former England and Lions loose-head Mako Vunipola is in advanced talks to secure a move across the English Channel to join Top 14 new boys Vannes.

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Vunipola, 33, and his younger brother Billy both left Saracens at the end of last season after winning five Premiership crowns and three European titles during their time at the club.

He had been widely tipped to join Billy in Montpellier next season but is now set to end up in Brittany after Vannes beat Grenoble in the Pro D2 play-off final to win promotion to the Top 14 for the first time.

New Zealand-born Mako, who made 18 appearances for Saracens last season, announced in January that he was retiring from international rugby after winning 79 caps for England and another six for the Lions.

Vunipola was a key part of Eddie Jones’s squad that reached the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final, as well as winning three Six Nations titles and the 2016 Grand Slam.

Vannes have already tempted Colomiers loose-head Hugh Djehi to the Stade de la Rabine but want Vunipola, who made over 200 appearances for Saracens, to add some much-needed experience.

He will be the biggest name to move to north-western France, with Vannes only adding Pau lock Fabrice Metz and Nevers lock Christiaan Van Der Merwe to the signing of Djehi so far this summer.

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Vunipola has been regularly linked with a move to France in the past couple of years and has also attracted interest from Super Rugby Pacific franchises and clubs in Japan but remained loyal to Saracens.

But the Vunipola brothers opted to join their England and Lions team-mate Owen Farrell in leaving the highly successful North London outfit.

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