DEAL DONE: Vunipola will depart Saracens despite contract offer - Ruck

DEAL DONE: Vunipola will depart Saracens despite contract offer

Billy Vunipola is currently engaged in negotiations with Suntory Sungoliath, and now is close to agreeing a potential move to Japan.

The formidable No 8 is at a crossroads, deliberating between staying with Saracens or embarking on a lucrative venture in the Far East.

Previously associated with the Tokyo-based team in Japan’s burgeoning League One, the 31-year-old opted to extend his contract with the Premiership champions.

However, following a limited role in the recent World Cup, the once stalwart of the England pack finds himself reassessing his career trajectory.

Sources from Mail Sport reveal ongoing discussions with Sungoliath, while Saracens have also extended a new contract offer.

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

A potential mitigating factor in retaining top talent could be the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) introduction of hybrid contracts. Under this initiative, £150,000 will be contributed to incentivize the retention of the best English players within the Premiership.

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Four other Saracens stars out of contract:

#1. Maro Itoje

Itoje’s rise to the top of the rugby world has been truly meteoric, scooping up many individual accolades whilst contributing hugely at club and international level.

The lock, who is equally at home on the flank, is one of a number of success stories from the Saracens Academy, stepping up to the first team for his debut in January 2013 in the LV= Cup.

Since then he has made 150 appearances, and has developed into a world class option with astounding physicality and defensive attributes.

The four-time Premiership winner and three-time European champion’s international CV also makes for impressive reading. ‘The Pearl’ guided England U20 to their second-ever World Rugby Championship title before gaining a full cap in the 2016 Six Nations where Eddie Jones’ side were crowned Grand Slam champions, and he now has over 50 caps for his country.

He made three Test starts on England’s victorious summer tour of Australia and another Six Nations gong before becoming a British & Irish Lion in 2017 and 2021 featuring in all three tests on both tours.

Itoje was named European Player of the Year and Land Rover Discovery of the Season in 2016 as well as man of the match in Saracens’ maiden European Cup success.