Owen Farrell has told England fans not to worry that the spine of the team kicking off their Six Nations defence won’t have played for TWO months.
Farrell, Elliot Daly, Jamie George, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola play for a Saracens club banished from the Premiership and without a league game until March.
Of that quintet only Vunipola has pulled on a game jersey since England won the Autumn Nations Cup on December 6 - and that in a club friendly against second tier opposition.
Yet both Red Rose captain Farrell and his boss Eddie Jones claim that far from being a problem, the enforced mid-season break has been a “godsend”.
Farrell said: “It's not like we have been sat on a physio bed, we’ve not been injured. We’ve been working hard with pre-season stuff like running and gym.
“We have seen it as a massive opportunity to get some good training under our belts as over the past few years we haven't had much opportunity for a good pre-season.”
Farrell, who also spent a period in isolation, insists he and his pals can hit the ground running when Scotland pitch up at Twickenham on Saturday week.
Jones also expects his Saracens contingent to quickly shake off the rust and, if anything, be better for their period of relative inactivity.
“The Saracens boys have probably, over the last five years, played six seasons of rugby,” he said. “For them to actually have a pre-season now is a godsend.
“They will come back in much better condition than they’d normally be in at this time of year. This is an unbelievable time to get them in the best condition.”
Of course England would say that wouldn’t they.
Factor in the loss to injury of Mako Vunipola, Joe Launchbury and Sam Underhill and the unavailability of Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler, and Jones’ men face a challenge to pick up from where they left off in what he terms the “world’s greatest tournament”.
They checked into their biosecure bubble at St George’s Park yesterday to be greeted by tightened restrictions aimed at minimising the risk of a Covid outbreak.
All meetings will be held outside in an open-sided marquee for which players have not only been provided with thermal gloves, snoods, hats and blankets, but fire pits, heaters and an outdoor coffee machine.
They will undergo twice weekly testing and no visitor will be allowed into the environment without proof of a negative test result.
Between now and the end of the championship on March 20 players and staff will be allowed home only during the two fallow weeks.
Jones said: “We've got the opportunity to do something special for the country in a time that is so difficult.
“We'll make sure we do everything we can to be the best prepared side and put a smile on people's faces.”