(Reuters) – Saracens will not ask their England players to put club before country despite their Premiership status being jeaopordized by a 35-point deduction for beaching breaching salary cap regulations, coach Mark McCall has said.
English and European champions Saracens were also fined 5.36 million pounds this month and the club has opted not to appeal the punishment.
England coach Eddie Jones has said he was concerned that Saracens players such as Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Elliot Daly, Mako and Billy Vunipola would prioritize Premiership survival over next year’s Six Nations.
“I would never ask players not to play for England,” McCall told reporters. “We want them to play for their country and I support them doing so 100% … it’s the pinnacle of the game.
“Wanting to play in the Six Nations doesn’t mean you’re not committed to the club. All of these guys are 100% committed to the club but playing for your country is playing for your country and I would support that every time.”
England, who finished runners-up to South Africa at the World Cup, begin their Six Nations campaign against France on Feb. 2 and finish on March 14 against Italy.
With the points penalty, Saracens are last in the standings on -22 points after four games and McCall said setting a target for how many wins they would need to avoid relegation was the wrong way to approach the campaign.
“It’s one of the things that can trip you up if you start to think that way instead of just playing your best rugby — and hopefully winning matches,” he added.
“The end of the Six Nations might be a good time to see where we are and what is properly required.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)