After reports emerged yesterday that Saracens and South Africa prop Vincent Koch will remain with his club in the Championship next season, questions have been raised about his international future.
The Rugby Football Union have already said that they will pick England players next season in the Championship, and as a result Jamie George and Elliot Daly have expressed their intention to remain in north London, with more expected to follow.
This comes after Saracens were automatically relegated in January for Salary Cap breaches.
However, no other rugby union has yet shared the same message, and Rassie Erasmus and South Africa may not be keen on one of their Rugby World Cup winners playing in England’s second tier.
The 29-year-old tighthead prop will still surely have international aspirations, and while nothing has yet been confirmed, it throws his Test selection into doubt, at least for a year, providing Saracens bounce back up.
The reigning English and European champions are hoping to host exhibition matches next season for their Test players, many of whom will be away during the autumn internationals and Six Nations as well.
While Koch may be with South Africa during November, he may have an extended fallow period during the spring.
The big glitch in this is that Erasmus has said that he won't pick SA players in the English championship. So if koch stays then he is giving up on SA selection which seems unlikely
— Richard Higgs (@richardhiggsPT) March 6, 2020
The benefit for England players next season is that the stint in the Championship will serve as a sabbatical year, giving them a break from the rigours of playing week-on-week. With the British and Irish Lions series at the end of the season, that may be ideal for coach Warren Gatland, as the Test series is played in August.
With the Lions touring South Africa, the same can apply for Koch, whose workload will be reduced ahead of the Lions tour and the Rugby Championship at the end of the European season.
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but this is something that all non-England internationals will have to consider at Saracens, as their Test future is likely to be the deciding factor when weighing up their options.
WATCH: England head coach Eddie Jones and captain Owen Farrell look ahead to Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales.
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