The Rugby Football Union is to spearhead calls for a crackdown on the international residency laws that allowed Nathan Hughes to make his debut for England this season by demanding that the qualification period increases from three to five years.

World Rugby is due to vote on the issue in May after launching a review involving consultation with 126 unions last November.

Any proposal for change is likely to face considerable opposition - as it did when the issue was last raised following the 2015 World Cup - but the RFU is determined to argue the case and hinted that it may impose its own five-year rule even if it is voted down.

Agustín Pichot, the World Rugby vice-chairman, made it clear on his appointment last summer that he felt three years was too short amid concerns that it was undermining the fabric of the international game and fuelling the player drain from the Pacific Islands.

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Countries including Scotland and Ireland have been criticised for targeting young 'project' players from the southern hemisphere with the view to bolster their squads after three years.

England have also made use of the rule, with Hughes, who was born in Fiji, the latest to be capped after qualifying on residency grounds.

Ian Ritchie, the RFU chief executive, confirmed for the first time that the governing body would advocate extending the qualification period.

"Our view will be, and this is subject to further discussion but it's coming up soon, that a five-year qualification is the optimum position to be in," said Ritchie. "There are other countries who will take a different view, I think, and that's up to them."

Unions are free to impose their own qualification rules above the current three-year minimum laid down by World Rugby and in December the French Rugby Federation said it would no longer go on the three-year residency rule but instead would require players to possess a French passport.

Ritchie said the RFU would prefer to await the outcome of the World Rugby vote before deciding whether to impose their own rules.

An extension could have a direct impact on the hopes of Sale's former rugby league player Denny Solomona of making Eddie Jones's squad.

Solomona, who was born and raised in Auckland and represented Samoa at rugby league last October, joined Sale in a controversial move in December and will qualify for England under the current laws in August.

"I think it should be five (years) and that's what we'll be putting forward," Ritchie said. "If it stays at three then we'd have to think again and review it.

"We commit from a position, as do the French, from a large playing base and a large number of people to select from so some people will say you can afford to be hard line on this particular issue.

"If you have a small playing base, then I could well understand why somebody would like it to be less than that. Our position will be the five years.

"In an ideal world there would be universality of regulation and that there's a helpful way of dealing with this by moving the World Rugby regulations from three to five. So let's see how that goes."

Meanwhile, Dylan Hartley is poised to be named as England's captain when Eddie Jones announces his Six Nations squad on Friday.

Hartley is expected to undergo a fitness test on Thursday but England are confident that he is match ready despite playing only six minutes since the victory over Australia on Dec 3 because of his latest ban.