RugbyPass have been assured that neither player is looking at Super Rugby as an option as they weigh up their immediate playing plans after Saracens’ relegation to the Championship next season following a heavy fine and massive points penalty for breaking the agreed Gallagher Premiership salary cap for the last three seasons.
Mako, who has won 59 England caps, and 51-times capped Billy recently returned from Tonga where the visited a sick relative and their close ties to that region led to speculation that a season away from Europe could be an attractive alternative.
Joe Marchant, the England centre, is currently on loan from Harlequins to enable him to play for the Auckland-based Blues in Super Rugby. That move was designed to help fast track the career of one of England’s most promising mid-fielders, but Mako and Billy are already established international stars.
Mako, who was banned from joining the England players for the recent Six Nations match with Wales due to concerns about coronavirus after travelling through Hong Kong on his trip to and from Tonga with his brother, is one of the world’s outstanding front row forwards and is settled in England with his young family.
Billy, who got married in Tonga last year, is currently recovering from a fourth broken arm and the disruption to the current season caused by coronavirus may allow the No8 to return to action before the season ends.
Mako helped Saracens to a ninth Premiership win of the season over Leicester on March 7 and Mark McCall, who insists all but one of the current Saracens squad have sorted out their plans for next season, said: “Billy is not close at the moment to being back.”
In January, New Zealand Rugby’s head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said it was possible more high-profile players could seek a change of scenery down under similar to Marchant’s switch.
Lendrum told the New Zealand Herald: “We’re massively excited about Joe and you never know – maybe not in a Lions year next year, but if someone else wants to come out and try their hand at Super Rugby we’d be really open to it.”
WATCH: The confusing Mako Vunipola England/Saracens fallout
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