Eddie Jones isn’t at all concerned by the lack of game time his Saracens contingent of England players – headed by skipper Owen Farrell – will have had over the winter when they assemble at St George’s Park next Wednesday to begin preparations for the 2021 Six Nations campaign. 

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With Saracens automatically relegated from the Gallagher Premiership due to repeated salary cap breaches, the London club were left inactive from October 4, the date of their last appearance in the top flight before demotion, through to last Saturday when they lost at Ealing in the pre-season Trailfinders Cup.   

Jones picked a five-strong contingent of Saracens players – Farrell, Elliot Daly, Jamie George, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola – in his squad of 28 England players for the Six Nations and other than Vunipola having a run-out last week against Trailfinders, the others have not played any rugby since the December 6 Autumn Nations Cup final win over France.

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England’s Mike Brown joins Wales’ Jamie Roberts on the latest RugbyPass Offload

That layoff will mean they have gone 62 days without a match by the time they take on Scotland a Twickenham on February 6, a nine-week rest at a time when their fellow England players and the Scottish opposition they will face have been busy with their respective clubs.  

However, rather than worry about this lengthy absence of game time, England boss Jones believes his Saracens picks will be all the better for the rest and will become better players in the long-term for it. 

“The Saracens boys, I went and saw Billy play at Ealing on Saturday and I thought he was in great nick. I thought he was robust, got around the field albeit in a difficult game for him, and I know the rest of the boys have been training really hard. 

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“It has been for those guys particularly who have been at the top of the game and have played extra post-season games for the last three or four years, this time period is almost like a god-send to them.

“They are able to freshen their bodies up, do some really good strength and conditioning work and come back even better players. So I’m anticipating those blokes will be even better. I’m not sure (when this improvement will happen). My wish is for this Six Nations but we will wait and see. But definitely, they will benefit from this experience now and only come out of it better players.”

Mako Vunipola, the other Saracens player regularly in Jones’ England selection, pulled out of that final against France with an achilles injury after he had been chosen to start. He is still not fit but while he was excluded from the England 28 announced on Friday, the prop will join the squad to undertake rehab during the tournament. 

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