Billy Vunipola withdraws from Lions tour

Billy Vunipola has been forced to withdraw from the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand with a shoulder injury.

The Saracens number eight has been trying to manage the injury but has conceded it will require further treatment.

Wasps back row James Haskell has been called into the squad by coach Warren Gatland to provide cover.

“It is really disappointing for Billy and we know how much he was looking forward to joining the squad,” Gatland said.

“He has been carrying an injury and feels he wouldn’t be able to contribute fully to the Tour and needs further medical treatment.

“We really appreciate his honesty in making this decision and wish him luck with his recovery.

“We have called up James to the squad, we wish him all the best next weekend and look forward to welcoming him into camp before we depart.”

The 24-year-old Vunipola had been looking forward to joining his brother and Sararcens team-mate Mako on the plane to New Zealand.

Haskell had been named in the England squad to travel to Argentina this summer and his call-up leaves Eddie Jones short of numbers, with 15 of his players on Lions duty.

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