Billy Vunipola was 'scared' and 'anxious' on his return from injury
Last Updated: 09/01/19 11:08pm
England international Billy Vunipola admits he was "scared" and "anxious" when making his latest injury comeback for Saracens.
The 26-year-old returned from a broken arm on Friday night as Saracens were defeated 24-18 by Sale Sharks.
His injury was the latest in a long list of setbacks which have seen Vunipola pick up just four England caps since the autumn of 2016.
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Vunipola has previously broken his arm, also suffered shoulder and knee injuries, and he admits his injuries have forced him to adopt a more cautious approach.
"My arms feel good, they are strapped up and protected now," he said. "I think the thing I was worried about was being tired, but it wasn't as much that on the weekend I was more trying to find my feet.
"I was a bit tentative and anxious - I readily admit that now. Before I was a bit naive that I could fall straight into it, whereas now I am a bit more prepared. And scared as well.
"Not of being injured, but the process of coming back is the hardest thing. Hopefully this weekend I can be better, then next weekend, then see when you go from there."
Vunipola admits he was not at his best in his return at the AJ Bell Stadium but is hopeful he can play his way back into the form ahead of England's Six Nations campaign starting against Ireland on February 2.
"I hope it [that fear] will go away," Vunipola said, ahead of Sunday's Champions Cup clash with Lyon in France.
"That comes from the confidence of playing games week in week out, which I haven't done consistently.
"I think it's a good thing. It will hopefully drive me and help me to protect myself better.
"Hopefully these next few games I can stay injury free and my form can shoot up. I'm trying to stay out of the spotlight.
"It's a good thing to have that fear. I don't think I had it before. I guess that came down to me being complacent."
Saracens coach Mark McCall echoed Vunipola's comments and knows he has to improve on his comeback display if he is to think about starting the Six Nations.
"Ordinarily he comes back with a storming performance but this time it was a bit more tentative," he said.
"Maybe that's understandable because his return was delayed a week because the consultant was a bit nervous about the arm and Billy was too.
"But having got that game out of the way hopefully we'll see a much less tentative Billy this weekend."
Asked if Vunipola could still manage to feature in the Six Nations, McCall added: "Yeah, probably. But he'll have to play better than he did last weekend."