England boss Eddie Jones has reacted tongue-in-cheek to Ireland fielding a team against them next Saturday that will contain five players from New Zealand and South African who have qualified for Andy Farrell’s XV under the controversial 36-month residency rule. 

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An uncapped overseas player can currently qualify for another country by simply living there for three years and Ireland have capped eleven foreigners under this residency scheme since first embarking down that route in 2012 when selecting South African Richardt Strauss for a debut cap against his native Springboks.   

The tally of overseas adoptees picked by Ireland stands at eleven following last Friday’s debut by New Zealander James Lowe. He was joined in that win over Wales by fellow Kiwi Jamison Gibson-Park and South African Quinn Roux.  

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Dylan Hartley and Simon Zebo talk Autumn Nations Cup

The trio made up 1/5 of that starting XV but the representation of overseas players in the starting Ireland line-up will now increase to 1/3 after recalls for New Zealander Bundee Aki and South African CJ Stander. 

This ‘greening’ of the Irish with a heavy overseas influx was put to Jones on Thursday after he unveiled his England XV. “I heard someone call them the United Nations, mate. I had a quick chuckle,” he said before going to defend what Ireland have been up to.

“Andy Farrell and Nick Easter (sic: Simon Easterby) and Mike Catt are just selecting the team they are allowed to select under the regulations. I understand how Irish people would be upset about Irish-born players missing out, but they are the laws and regulations of international rugby, so they are just sticking by the regulations.”

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Jones, who coached Japan before taking up the reins in England, went to recall his previous encounter with Lowe, the former New Zealand Maori pick who scored a debut Test try for Ireland against Wales.

“I have got a vivid memory of James Lowe playing for the New Zealand Maori against Japan in 2014 in Kobe Stadium. He scored a chip and chase try against us from his own goal-line so I know how talented a player he is. He has got great work off the ball so we are just going to have to defend really well against him.”

A teammate of Lowe’s in that 61-21 win for the Maori was Gibson-Park, the scrum-half who will be the winger’s Ireland teammate on Saturday (click here to see Lowe’s Maori vs Japan try).   

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