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.”
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.
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.
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.”
Featured from our writers: