Billy Vunipola would take pay cut to avoid burn out

England and Saracens forward Billy Vunipola would be willing to take a pay cut if it meant he could play less rugby and avoid burning out.

Vunipola sustained a serious cartilage injury in his right knee last November and missed the start of the 2017 Six Nations, while a shoulder problem ruled him out of representing the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand. Both issues required surgery.

The number eight suffered a further setback during Sarries' 41-13 thumping of Sale Sharks on Saturday, with another operation on the same knee set to keep him out of action for the next four months.

Speaking before suffering that injury, Vunipola suggested the demands on players - England's elite individuals are limited to 32 matches in a calendar year - are too high.

"I didn't enjoy being on the surgery table twice in one year and that's supposed to be deemed as normal," he told the BBC's Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

"Kids want to play rugby because it's fun, but they also need to know that it's tough, and it's normal to have surgery at 25 because you're so worn down.

"I'm not complaining, I just want people to understand that having surgery is not fun, and it's not fun being injured.

"It gets to a point when you are just done, and you can't control when your knee goes out or your shoulder comes out.

"That was the weirdest feeling I've ever had in my life, not being able to control that and prevent it from happening.

"So, something probably needs to change, or the players will just burn out.

"Thirty-two games is a lot, but it's doable. But do you want people to just do it, or do you want people to go out there and smash it?"

Asked if he would consider a reduction in pay if it meant he could play fewer matches, Vunipola replied: "Yes."

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