Saracens coach Mark McCall says they will not ask their England internationals to put club ahead of country despite their relegation battle in the Premiership.
The defending English champions were fined £5.36 million and handed a 35-points deduction for breaching the Premiership’s salary cap. Saracens considered appealing the sanction but ultimately decided to accept their punishment when the deadline passed on Monday.
The penalty puts Saracens bottom of the Premiership table with -22 points after four games, 26 points behind the 11th-placed Leicester Tigers.
England coach Eddie Jones expressed concern that players such as captain Owen Farrell and lock Maro Itoje would not be able to focus on the upcoming Six Nations campaign, instead prioritising Saracens’ survival.
However, McCall, who has been with Saracens since 2009, moved to ease any concerns Jones might have about Saracens’ internationals.
‘I would never ask players not to play for England,’ McCall said. 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.’
McCall added that Saracens would not be approaching the rest of the season as a relegation battle.
‘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,’ McCall said. ‘The end of the Six Nations might be a good time to see where we are and what is properly required.’
World Cup finalists England begin their Six Nations campaign against France on 2 February and finish against Italy on 14 March.
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