ELLIS GENGE has opened up on the psychological toll of England's Six Nations bubble – admitting it has been horrible at times.
Eddie Jones' stars have been locked-up for the majority of the last eight weeks and forced to be in their rooms when not training due to ultra-strict Covid rules.
However, they have raked in the cash, earning more than £75,000 each while being looked after in a five-star London hotel.
But ahead of England's final game in Ireland, prop Genge said: "I would be lying if I said it’s been easy to be in the same place, every day, for that amount of time.
"Will Stuart said he can’t remember life before the Lensbury. I think it’s taken it’s toll on people psychologically.
"At the beginning, the rules were very stringent and it was very tough.
"It slowly started to change and we could sit a bit closer at dinner and didn’t have to shout at each other across the room."
Asked about being cooped up in his room, straight-talking Genge said: "It is just horrible isn’t it?
"How long have you been in your house? It is not nice is it?
"It is hard being around so many people a lot of the time that you don’t necessarily want to be with because you are young.
"You want to get out and do stuff. I have a son at home and a dog who I leave dearly who I can’t walk. Stuff like that.
"I want to see my family: my nieces, my mum, my nan, my friends. It is a general thing.
"I don’t think boys are going to go around moaning about: 'I don’t want to be in the bubble'.
"You don’t want to do that because you don’t want to sap and take away from the boys. We are all in it together.
"I feel this group has invested in each other and we have all agreed to make this sacrifice together and we are starting to see the benefits of that now quite late in the competition.
"Talking about the psychological toll I don’t think I am going to run around screaming Lensbury everywhere, but it has not been easy.
"For me times of darkness actually bring laughter. I think we now enjoy these situations.
"I think we’ll look back definitely and have a few moments that we’ll laugh about.
"If you do make sacrifices it spurs you on to do well, it is one of those situations, where we don't want to be in this position where we have to sacrifice all these freedoms that we usually have, but lets pull together and make something out of it.
"We've spent so much time at the Lensbury now that I’ve almost forgotten what Pennyhill is like. That’s what this group is good with as well.
"It doesn’t really matter where we are. Everything stays the same in terms of how we operate. And they do a good job of mixing it up.
"You’ll come in from one of the weeks off and the coffee machine will be in a different place. And there’s absolutely no reason for it to have moved.
"No-one questions why. But you know they’ve done it so it seems we’re in a different environment.
"You are always thinking about rugby, because you’re here at England camp, so it’s key to take that hour or two to wind down too.
"Play computer games, or get a social hit outside with a coffee. The coaches have been good, the staff, Jon Clarke the S&C.
"We usually do this thing called bacon and eggs, which is a 6am start in the gym. No one wants to do it, but we do it. It’s sacrifice.
"We get up, do it together and it brings us closer together as a team.
"This week he mixed it up and it was a nice little surprise. Little things like that keep us on our toes, but it’s not been easy at all.
"I don’t know if I can say what we did. Use your imagination. It wasn’t weights."
Genge has had a bubble boost, though.
After winning a Fifa PlayStation tournament with winger Anthony Watson they were served dinner by Billy Vunipola and Ollie Lawrence – who both had to dress up in their full England team suits.
Genge said: "Me and Ant scored a 90th minute equaliser against Billy Vunipola and Ollie Lawrence.
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Regardless of whether I play or not, even off the pitch there is such a big role to play, when you are touring, bringing the morale.
"It was from a free kick. We were Bayern Munich. Robert Lewandowski scored with a header bottom left corner. That then went to golden goal.
"Those boys had then finished their games. It was 5-0 to our team, as in we had won five games and this was the last game to be played.
"If we got a 6-0 whitewash the boys had to dress up in their number ones and serve us dinner.
"Jamie George came in and said: ‘Boys, golden goal, there’s no pressure on you to win but I would love to see the boys in their number ones’.
"Me and Ant said: ‘No problem’. Then, three minutes into golden goal, bottom left corner, Lewandowski, no problem.
"So 3-2 final score. Boys had their suits on. It was decent."
When the Six Nations finishes England stars will be hoping to find out if, and where, the Lions tour will take place this summer.
And even though he isn't first-choice for England, Genge reckons he has the drinking skills suited for the famous trips.
The 26-year-old added: “Obviously there’s a lot of ambiguity about it.
"I don’t know the intricacies, if it’s going to be here or there, but I think anyone would be lying if they said they didn’t want to play or be a part of that squad.
"That’s what we all do, it’s what we play our best for, to get accolades like that. I’d love to go.
"The finishing roles have become a lot more prevalent.
"You see games literally being won literally off the bench. Regardless of whether I play or not, even off the pitch there is such a big role to play, when you are touring, bringing the morale.
"And you need someone who’s good at sinking pints."
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