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The England plea Jack Willis has made about overseas-based players

By PA
(Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images )

Jack Willis is hopeful he can remain available for Toulouse and England despite the RFU’s current policy of refusing to consider players outside the Gallagher Premiership. Special dispensation was granted to Willis until the end of the Word Cup due to his forced exit from financially-stricken Wasps, which resulted in him joining the Top 14 heavyweights at short notice.

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Outstanding displays against Italy and Ireland in the Six Nations cemented his position as England’s first choice openside but given he is poised to extend his stay at Toulouse, he will soon be off limits for England boss Steve Borthwick.

Borthwick has indicated he wants the RFU to soften its position on overseas-based players, which will be a topic of discussion during negotiations for the new professional game agreement. Willis is encouraged by Borthwick’s view and is adamant it is possible to play for England while campaigning in French club rugby.

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“Steve Borthwick coming out and supporting that shows there are lots of people behind the scenes working to try to find the right solution for English rugby moving forwards,” Willis told the Evening Standard Rugby Podcast.

“There are lots of avenues to explore. The positive thing for me is that it seems that hopefully that is on the table and at least being discussed. We will see.

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“Steve has been fantastic with me throughout this Six Nations on many levels – his support and his work with Toulouse. Toulouse have been brilliant as well and showed how smooth that process can be. There have been lots of conversations back and forth about what would be best for me being involved with England and how can we help with Toulouse if they needed me for the weekend.”

Willis believes the current financial climate of the Premiership offers a compelling case for the RFU to change its position, even though figureheads such as Exeter boss Rob Baxter are vehemently against lifting the restriction.

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“You look at the salary cap, where it is heading, how tight it is and how many players have been squeezed out of jobs. You then look at Wasps and Worcester – they didn’t have financially stable models,” he said.

“Something that is a factor for me is the financial stability of that club [Toulouse] because I can’t tell you how difficult it was going through what we went through. We were training about three hours before we first got told we were going into administration.”

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