Eddie Jones will have no qualms picking any Saracens players while they are in the Championship next season after his captain, Owen Farrell, became the latest to commit his future to the club.
Farrell follows Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Mako and Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly in committing to Saracens’ cause despite their relegation to the second tier. Previously, Jones has hinted he would have concerns picking players from the Championship, prompting Mark Wilson to agree a loan move last season from Newcastle to Sale.
Saracens’ senior England players are not expected to feature often in the Championship and given the gruelling 12-month season that awaits, the additional rest afforded to them around a six-game autumn schedule and next year’s Six Nations, it may prove a blessing for Jones, as well as the British & Irish Lions head coach, Warren Gatland.
“I will be comfortable if they are in good form,” said Jones. “Players who have a track record of Test match success, I have a pretty good idea of where they are and where they need to be. My understanding is most of the younger guys at Saracens are moving to other clubs so they will not have the same issues that the older players have. Without wishing to sound too grandiose if I look at Owen Farrell it does not matter what game he plays I will have a pretty good understanding of where he is.”
Jones admitted he does not know who England will be playing this autumn, but the fixture list is taking shape with New Zealand set to host a modified Rugby Championship in November and December, leaving an eight-team “festival of rugby” the expected outcome in the northern hemisphere.
For those fixtures England players are set for a substantial cut to their £25,000 match fees with the Rugby Football Union forecasting crippling losses and Jones taking a 25% pay cut on his estimated £700,000 salary. England’s elite men’s programme is also unlikely to be immune to cuts, potentially harming their 2023 World Cup campaign.
“I am not an economist,” he said. “All I am is a rugby coach. At some stage, I will get told the games, I will get told what staff I can have and what players are available. Then they will make a choice. The reality is you have to keep everything in perspective.
“Any sort of cuts we have to take as staff and players now you have to look at it in terms of what is happening in society. I feel for anyone who has had a cut. I feel for people who have lost their jobs. We know that is happening. It is just about keeping things in perspective.
“I don’t think it is any grand gesture by me. I was asked to do it. I understand the situation. I worked for three months for no pay [when working as a teacher in Australia]. It is not one of the most prestigious schools in Sydney. The international grammar school had to close but a number of us decided to stay and work. I was lucky I was still living at home so my sustenance was looked after.
“Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. The sacrifice I am making as compared to some other people are making in sport and society is negligible.”