TWICKENHAM (AFP) – Eddie Jones hopes a “long debrief” will allow England to focus firmly on the Six Nations without their upcoming Championship campaign being overshadowed by any lingering World Cup regrets and the Saracens salary-cap scandal.
The England coach’s task in bolstering his squad’s morale after a comprehensive 32-12 defeat by South Africa in November’s World Cup final in Yokohama has been compounded by the crisis engulfing Premiership and European champions Saracens since England returned from Japan.
Last weekend saw Saracens accept relegation rather than open up their books to further scrutiny for the salary-cap breaches, which have already cost them 35 points and a GBP5.36 million fine, amid suggestions the London club had failed to reduce their wage bill by some GBP2 million in order to comply with this season’s regulations.
There are seven Saracens players in England’s Six Nations squad, including key figures such as Owen Farrell, Jones’s captain in Japan, and lock Maro Itoje.
But Jones is determined any uncertainty over their long-term club and Test futures, or the bitterness felt by many within English rugby towards Saracens, does not derail his squad’s Six Nations title ambitions.