Billy Vunipola warns of possible strike over player fatigue
‘The suits are always talking, but they have never played nine months in today’s rugby’
Saracens’ Billy Vunipola missed the Lions tour during the summer due to injury. Photograph: Getty Images
Billy Vunipola has called for the rugby season to be shortened considerably after revealing his body “could not handle” the demands of playing for England and Saracens last term.
The 24-year-old number eight missed the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand following surgery on his knee and shoulder, which he claims was necessary as he was “worn down”.
Vunipola warned players may be forced to strike if there is no reduction in the number of matches.
He told the Times: “Everyone complains that they keep pushing the salary cap up but we need more players. It’s not about money, it’s about the toil we’re put through.
“Something is going to give. Something might happen where we follow the NFL or NBA, where they had a lock-out. I’m not saying I’m going to start it, but I feel like something needs to happen for the suits to realise these guys are serious.
“It comes down to how much we play. My body could not handle it. I might think I’m strong and tough but I’m not. I just got worn down.
“The suits are always talking about it but they have never played nine months in today’s rugby. It’s something I would love to change — play less.”