Eddie Jones: Saracens players could choose club over country

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Barbarians' coach Eddie Jones during The Killik Cup match at Twickenham Stadium, London. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
England coach Eddie Jones (Credit: Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones is wary that a huge bulk of his England squad may be unavailable for the Six Nations because of the the 35-point deduction placed on Saracens.

The London club was found guilty of breaching the salary cap and were handed the punishment alongside a £5.36 million fine. The deduction means that rather than fight for the title, as Saracens have done in recent years, the club will be battling relegation.

Speaking about the potential clash, Jones told BBC Sport: “Some Saracens players who feel like they've got to play for their club instead of their country, to make sure they don't go down.”

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02:  Owen Farrell, (R) the England captain looks dejected with team mates Jamie George (L) and Mako Vunipola after their defeat during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Jamie George, Mako Vunipola and Owen Farrell (L to R) (Credit: Getty Images)

If any players do choose to opt for club over country, it would significantly dent England’s chances for success in their first Six Nations campaign since losing in last month’s World Cup final to South Africa.

READ MORE: Saracens accept 35-point deduction ‘with humility’

Eight Saracens players went to Japan as part of Jones’ World Cup squad, including hugely influential players such as captain Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Jamie George. Losing those players would have a “significant impact”, according to the Australian.

The Six Nations starts on February 2 and runs for six weeks, with domestic league competition carrying on throughout, despite the fact that clubs ordinarily have to go without their international players. It remains to be seen whether Saracens players will play or not, but Jones is well aware must consider the possibility.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: Nigel Wray, Chairman of Saracens, celebrates with the trophy following the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Twickenham Stadium on June 01, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Nigel Wray, Chairman of Saracens (Credit: Getty Images)

Saracens originally decided to appeal the decision but have since dropped the appeal. Owner Nigel Wray said: “We have made mistakes and so, with humility, we must accept these penalties.

“As a club, we will now pull together and meet the challenges that lie ahead.

“We confirm our commitment to the salary cap, and the underlying principle of a level playing field, and will continue to work transparently with Premiership Rugby in this regard.”

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