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Saracens: England squad to address any anger over salary cap scandal

Saracens have made mistakes but it’s time to fix it – Jones

England are to hold talks to resolve any anger among the squad resulting from Saracens’ salary cap scandal.

Seven members of Eddie Jones’ 34-man squad play for Sarries, who will be relegated at the end of the season.

None of Jones’ current squad has been critical of the club’s conduct in public but Jones will preside over discussions at England’s training camp.

“We have got to debrief Saracens,” Jones said. “We need to get everything out on the table and sort it out.”

Jones’ squad begins a seven-day training camp in Portugal on Thursday, to prepare for their Six Nations opener against France on 2 February.

The party includes the influential Sarries trio Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola, and Jones will encourage a frank exchange of views in the Algarve.

“We are not robots,” Jones said. “You don’t know how long it is going to take. It could take longer, but we will sort it out.

“It’s common sense – say what you feel. If players are angry about it then say it, get it out on the table.

“We have got players from potentially 12 different clubs – 12 different ideas of what is right and what is wrong – and we will help them sort it out.

“I’m mindful of it [any tensions], but it’s also a great opportunity for us and the squad to get even tighter because problems are always there.

“Now obviously there’s quite a large problem at the moment, but if we can solve it and relationships get stronger because of it, the binding factor for all the players is they all want to play for England, they want England to win so that’s a unifying force.”

‘Sarries have made mistakes, now it’s time to fix it’

Premiership Rugby conducted an investigation into potential salary cap breaches by Saracens last year and their initial punishment was announced days after England’s World Cup final defeat last November.

Sarries have since accepted relegation to the Championship and this is the first time the England squad will get together since losing to South Africa in Japan.

“It’s been a difficult time,” said Jones. “They’ve obviously made mistakes, Saracens, and now is the time to fix it, but our job is to make sure people remember the good things about English rugby, so we’ve got a great opportunity against France to put rugby back on the back pages for the right reasons.”

Saracens players can still play for England even if they are playing in the second tier but the club’s director of rugby Mark McCall has said the squad will be broken up.

“It’s a difficult situation,” Jones added. “You sign for a club with a perception of what’s going to happen, and then it gets taken away.

“But they’re good players, they know how to prepare well for games, they know where to put issues that aren’t pertinent at that particular time, because for the next 10 days the only thing they’ve got to worry about is getting right to play against France.

“They know they’ve got to be in the best condition because otherwise they won’t get picked, and they want to get picked – they’ve all got a lot of pride and passion to play for England.”

There will also be discussions between the club and Tottenham Hotspur about the future of the five-year deal for Spurs to host Sarries’ annual “Showdown” fixture – designed to be their biggest game of the season.

In March, Saracens will play Harlequins at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but there has been no decision on what they will do about next season when they are in the Championship. An exhibition game is one option being considered.

BBC Sport understands that Saracens will speak to any season ticket holders with grievances over the remainder of this season.

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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