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Billy Vunipola set for four months out putting Six Nations chances under threat

Credit: PA

England number eight Billy Vunipola faces a race against time to be fit for the start of the RBS 6 Nations after undergoing knee surgery.

Vunipola has been ruled out for 16 weeks with the cartilage damage sustained in Saracens' 41-13 Aviva Premiership victory over Sale at Allianz Park on Saturday and will miss the autumn series against Argentina, Australia and Samoa.

"For any team to lose a player of the ability of Billy is a blow and he will be missed through the autumn for both Saracens and England," Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said.


England boss Eddie Jones rules out further Rugby League raids

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Eddie Jones has ruled out making a raid on rugby league to improve England's World Cup prospects in the mould of Sam Burgess' doomed cross-code switch.

Burgess was lured away from South Sydney Rabbitohs by Jones' predecessor Stuart Lancaster in the season before the 2015 global showpiece on these shores, but it proved to be an ill-advised move as the Great Britain star returned to Australia 12 months later having made minimal impact.

England failed to progress from the group phase of the tournament, the attention generated by Burgess' presence causing disruption, and Jones has little interest in casting his net outside his current playing resources.

"We don't sign players - we are the Rugby Football Union," Jones said.

"(RFU chief executive) Steve Brown doesn't come to me and say 'here's £500,000, spend it on a player'. I don't have that option, I can't influence recruitment.

"I can't say to Leicester 'you sign George Smith' - I can't do that it, it is not my responsibility. It is a nonsense. That's not me. That's not my job.

"My job is to pick from the Premiership clubs, we have a relationship with the Premiership clubs, we select players from the Premiership clubs. We don't tell them to recruit.

"If they want to recruit rugby league players and they are good enough to play for England then we will pick them."

Vunipola calls for rugby season to be shortened

Billy Vunipola has called for the rugby season to be shortened. Credit: PA

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."

Neck surgery rules Warburton out for four months

Sam Warburton will miss four months. Credit: PA

Cardiff Blues and Wales star Sam Warburton is to undergo surgery following the recurrence of a long-standing neck injury.

The Blues said that former Wales skipper Warburton, who captained the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand this summer, faces up to four months out.

It means that Warburton will miss Wales' autumn Tests against Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa.

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