DIRECTOR of rugby Gary Gold has refused to back calls for the Aviva Premiership season to be shortened despite Worcester Warriors' mounting injury list.

Saracens and England star Billy Vunipola has sparked a debate over the gruelling match schedule after insisting players’ bodies cannot cope with the demands.

The 24-year-old, who has been hampered by injuries in his career, has warned over strike action if rugby bosses do not make changes.

Warriors have been hit by a series of injury blows this season with back rower Marco Mama and hooker Niall Annett likely to miss the rest of the campaign after damaging their anterior cruciate ligaments.

Gold admitted the nine-month long season was “very taxing” for players, but he felt the 22-game league was “sensible” in its current guise.

“I don’t think any of our players are going on strike just yet,” Gold said.

“I think it is a long season and is very taxing.

“It is a big demand on the body.

“Although guys are fitter, faster and stronger than they were 10 to 15 years ago I think it takes its toll.

“But the Premiership is a great competition and is arguably the best in the world.

“It is sensible as you play everybody home and away, the playing fields are completely equal and the best teams come out on top at the end.”

Gold also does not believe changes need to be made to the European competitions and the Anglo-Welsh Cup to alleviate the workload for players.

However, he has criticised the “ridiculous” decision to double the amount of games for this term’s Premiership Rugby A-League.

Under the new format teams in the North Pool, which includes Worcester Cavaliers, will play 10 matches instead of five.

“I think the situation with the Premiership is fine and Europe and the Anglo-Welsh Cup are also not a problem,” Gold said.

“But when you start adding 10 other games and you are pushing your squad to participate in those then things are starting to get a little bit silly.”

Vunipola missed the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in order to undergo an operation on his knee and shoulder.

And the number eight has had to go under the knife again after suffering another knee injury.

Speaking in The Times, he said: “Everyone complains that they keep pushing the salary cap up but we need more players. It’s not about money, it’s about the toil we’re put through.

“Something is going to give. Something might happen where we follow the NFL or NBA, where they had a lockout.

“I’m not saying I’m going to start it, but I feel like something needs to happen for the suits to realise these guys are serious.

“It comes down to how much we play. My body could not handle it.

“I might think I’m strong and tough but I’m not. I just got worn down.

“The suits are always talking about it but they have never played nine months in today’s rugby.

“It’s something I would love to change.”