Eddie Jones will hold clear the air talks with his England squad this week in the hope the forum can go some way to resolving grievances surrounding the on-going Saracens salary cap saga.

Jones has also called on rugby chiefs to consider employing two referees on the field to speed up the game and help police the farcical offside line.

England's 34-man squad travels to Portugal this Thursday to prepare for their opening Six Nations match against France in Paris the following weekend.

The first item on the agenda will be giving players the opportunity to openly vent frustrations about Saracens and their looming relegation from the Premiership for breaching the salary cap over the last four seasons.


With seven Saracens players, including captain Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and George Kruis in England's squad, the drama has the potential to derail their Six Nations campaign.

"It is a great opportunity for us to get it all out on the table," Jones said. "It's going to be a long meeting. We have got a World Cup debrief, we have got to debrief Sarries. If there are any other issues we have got to sort it out.

"It's common sense. Say what you feel. If players are angry about it then say it, get it out on the table. But at the end of the day, there are 34 players that all want to play for England and their job is to get ready to play for England.

"We will help them sort it out. I don't envisage any problems at all, in fact I think it is an opportunity for the team to get tighter."

Uncertainty around Saracens players' futures – whether they will be loaned to other clubs, forced to play in the Championship next season or leave for good – is certain to create a distraction as individual decisions are made in the coming weeks.

Jones, therefore, admitted one meeting is unlikely to resolve all lingering issues.

"We are not robots. You don't know how long it is going to take. It could take longer, but we will sort it out," he said.

"We have got players from potentially 12 different clubs - 12 different ideas of what is right and what is wrong.


"We are like a family around the dinner table, someone wants to have pasta for dinner and the other one wants to have rice. They have a debate and that is on-going in the national team.

"Every national team I have coached has those problems. I remember coaching Japan and the Panasonic players hated the Suntory players so we had to sort it out. That always happens."

Jones maintained his non-committal stance when probed about his preference as to what Saracens' international contingent should do, and whether he would potentially select players from abroad under the exceptional circumstances clause.

"I am sure there is a discussion there to be had at the appropriate time."

Looking ahead to the Six Nations, Jones made the salient point that the breakdown and offside line needed immediate attention to improve the spectacle.

"We've got no idea how the referees are going to referee the games, which is a concern for me because I felt the World Cup didn't allow teams to play with enough quick ball.

"If we keep going down that track of making normal things that were previously illegal under the laws normal then we're going to have a slow attritional game. It's going to be a power game."

Jones specifically bemoans referees failing to penalise the tackler and assisting players for not releasing the ball carrier which ultimately leads to dull kick-dominated matches.

"That used to get penalised which doesn't any more - and we're trying to work out why. There's no scope for feedback, there's no discussion between the coaches and the referees.

"We're in one of those communication dead zones. Why I'm not sure, but we're going through that. It's hard to know which way the game will go. It's one of my biggest concerns for the game at the moment.

"Slow ball means more kicking. More high balls. Do you like it when halfbacks go box, box, box? Do you enjoy that? No. That's exactly right.

"The possibility is that we are going to have to look at how many officials are on the field because we need the game to get quicker. The game is too slow at the moment.

"I'd have two referees – one at the breakdown, one at the offside line, and the assistant referees are actually assistant referees.

"If they are on the right-hand side then they are responsible for that defence line on that side of the ruck and the left-hand side the same. We've got to open the game up.

"Whether that's going to happen in the Six Nations, I doubt that very much but it is a concern for the game. We want to be able to play a kicking game and we want to be able to play a running game. At the moment it is difficult to play a running game."