"Race against time" - Billy Vunipola Undergoes Knee Surgery Ahead of England Return - Ruck

“Race against time” – Billy Vunipola Undergoes Knee Surgery Ahead of England Return

Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola has undergone a reported ‘minor knee surgery’, and is participating in rehabilitation at the England training camp.

Billy Vunipola of England in possession ahead of Kazuki Himeno of Japan during the Autumn International Series match between England and Japan at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on Saturday 12th November 2022 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.

Vunipola had the operation on Friday, in what he described as a “minor surgical procedure on his injured knee.” Vunipola said; “The medical team are positive about my prospects, and I understand exactly what needs to be done over the next few weeks.”

The 30-year-old suffered damage to his knee ligaments, whilst playing for Saracens in their Champions Cup semi-final defeat to La Rochelle in April. Vunipola missed out on the remainder of the 2022/23 season with Sarries, as the North London club went on to be crowned Premiership champions.

Billy Vunipola of Saracens on the break during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final Match between Leicester Tigers and Saracens at Twickenham Stadium on 18 June 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

England Head Coach Steve Borthwick had previously called Billy Vunipola up into his squad, with the British & Irish Lion presenting a notable absentee throughout the 2023 Six Nations. However, an injured Vunipola was called into the squad admist the hopes of a return before the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Borthwick’s back-row ranks were noticeably weakened in recent weeks, firstly by an untimely injury to Sale Sharks captain Ben Curry. This was followed up by the shocking self-withdrawal of Sam Simmonds out of the England squad, as the soon-to-be Montpellier player prepares for his move to the Top 14.

Steve Borthwick, Head Coach of England Rugby during the England Rugby Captains Run ahead of the Six Nations Match between Wales and England at Principality Stadium, London on 24 Feb 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

Borthwick is pleased by Vunipola’s progress, some 75 days before England kick off the 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign, with a Pool D clash against Argentina in Marseille. “There’s still a long way to go until we are ready for a World Cup.” Borthwick said.

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#1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens)

#2. Jamie George (Saracens)

Jamie George of England during the Six Nations Match between England and Italy at Twickenham, London on 12 Feb 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

#3. Theo Dan (Saracens)

#4. Hugh Tizard (Saracens)

Hugh Tizard of Saracens after the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Saracens and Gloucester Rugby at Stonex Stadium on 24 September. Photo: Frankie OKeeffe/PPAUK

#5. Maro Itoje (Saracens)