Scrum-half Danny Care has welcomed the possible introduction of ‘hybrid contracts’ as a means of keeping England’s top stars in the financially-stricken Premiership.
Telegraph Sport exclusively revealed that the English league is close to agreeing a deal with the Rugby Football Union on a new ‘professional game partnership’ that would introduce hybrid contracts for 20 leading players. This would allow England head coach Steve Borthwick greater control over the management of players, including training load, in return for greater compensation.
The mooted £128 million deal is sorely needed for the Premiership which has lost three clubs to financial ruin in the past 12 months while a host of players including England squad members Jack Willis, Joe Marchant, Henry Arundell and David Ribbans have joined clubs in the Top 14. Rumours are swirling that French clubs are also circling the likes of Kyle Sinckler and Lewis Ludlam who are out of contract at the end of the season.
Care believes the hybrid contract proposal, which would provide greater financial security to players over the current match fee system, would be a step in the right direction. “England need to have their best players in England and if there are ways that we can do it, which might help the club game and help the clubs be more sustainable, then I think the players would be on board with that,” Care said.
“Hopefully they can sort that. I’m sure the administrators are looking at ways to keep the best English players in England, so I’ll be behind it if it’s a good thing for the players. We want to see English players playing in England, I’m definitely right in saying in that.”
At 36, Care is unlikely to be a beneficiary of the new arrangement but says the groundwork for the new deal was already being put in place by Borthwick, since he took charge at the start of the year.
Under Eddie Jones, the relationship between England and the clubs was effectively broken. Borthwick has been busy building bridges so there is already far greater collaboration over training programmes with England and the Premiership agreeing to use the same GPS system so data can be easily shared.
“I think Steve and the coaches are doing that already behind the scenes and they have been doing it since Steve took over the job,” Care said. “If there was more structure to it that might help everyone but I know Steve is working hard behind the scenes to make sure the clubs are aligned and do the best thing for the players. The wheels are already in motion for that.”
A common complaint from players previously was that they were pulled pillar to post between England and club who often have completely different demands. One player compared it to going from training for a marathon at a club to training for the 100 metres with England.
Care says he has been lucky in this regard and, having passed 90 caps, is determined to enjoy every last minute of his time in the England camp. “I know lads have found it tough from long campaigns,” Care said. “We have been in here for 16-17 weeks and the lads have been at the club for the same amount of time. But I am enjoying it here. I don’t want it to end any time soon. I would like to stay until the end if possible.”