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Former England captain Dylan Hartley would be “shocked” if any of Saracens’ players prioritised the battle for Gallagher Premiership survival over appearing in the Six Nations.
That was the prospect raised by Eddie Jones after the English and European champions were docked 35 points and fined £5.36m for breaching salary cap regulations.
Saracens supplied six starters for the recent World Cup final and while the club state that players with international ambitions will continue to have their blessing, Jones fears they might suffer from conflicting loyalties.
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But the recently retired Hartley, who in 2016 led England to their first Grand Slam for 13 years, insists Tests rugby is too big a draw to turn down.
“You try and find me a player who doesn’t want to play for his country. I’d be shocked if the Saracens players weren’t playing for England,” Hartley said.
“Your club is your bread and butter, but no club would hold back a player. And when you’ve got 10 or 12 of those players, you might need them!
“It would be a brave decision not to play because then you open the door to someone else. It’s almost like that decision you make at the end of the season not to tour and I’ve done that because of injury.
“It would be a bold decision
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