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Jones worried Saracens players may pick club over country

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By Reuters
Jones worried Saracens players may pick club over country
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - The Killik Cup - Barbarians v Fiji - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 16, 2019 Barbarians head coach Eddie Jones before the match REUTERS/Hannah McKay   -   Copyright  HANNAH MCKAY(Reuters)

(Reuters) – England coach Eddie Jones says there is a concern the Saracens players in his squad may put club before country after their Premiership survival was threatened by a 35-points deduction for breaching salary cap regulations.

English and European champions Saracens, who were also fined 5.36 million pounds ($6.94 million), said on Monday they would not appeal the punishment. [nL8N27Y398]

Jones had nine Saracens players in his squad for the recent Rugby World Cup in Japan, including captain Owen Farrell, second row Maro Itoje, hooker Jamie George, full-back Elliot Daly, prop Mako Vunipola and his brother Billy, who plays at number eight.

“Obviously there may be some dislocation between Saracens players and the rest of the clubs,” Jones told the BBC. “That’s a reality.

“We may have to work to mend those relationships a bit harder and there might be 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.

“It could have a significant impact. It’s something we need to weigh up and look at very carefully.”

As a result of the sanction, Saracens’ current points tally will be adjusted to -22, leaving them 26 points adrift of 11th-placed Leicester Tigers.

England, who finished runners-up to South Africa at the World Cup, begin their Six Nations campaign against France on Feb. 2.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)