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Eddie Jones rules out selecting France-based players for England

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Eddie Jones gave his first press conference as England's rugby union head coach

New England coach Eddie Jones has ruled out selecting foreign-based players.

The Australian, whose appointment on a four-year contract was confirmed on Friday morning, says the rule which only allows him to select players based abroad in "exceptional circumstances" remains in place.  

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That means the likes of Steffon Armitage, Nick Abendanon and David Strettle, who all play in France, will remain in the international wilderness unless they return to England.

Clermont Auvergne full-back Abendanon was the European Player of the Year in 2015, and Toulon back-row Armitage won the award the year before.

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Neither man played in the World Cup, and Jones says that he will not ask for the rule to be changed.

Speaking at his first news conference, Jones, 55, said: "The only thing I know is I only want players who want to play for England. If you want to play for England, you play in the Premiership.

Eddie Jones, the new England Rugby head coach, faces the media
Image: Eddie Jones, the new England rugby head coach, faces the media

"That is the rule and that's the rule that is going to stay. I'm quite happy with that. I can work with that."

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Jones had only just started a new job with the Stormers franchise in South Africa, but he admitted he could not turn down the chance to coach England.

"It's a very exciting opportunity, they're a hugely talented team," he said. "It's a great opportunity to coach these players. The team play at Twickenham, a great venue so I am looking forward to it.

Steffon Armitage of Toulon looks on during the European Rugby Champions Cup semi final match between RC Toulon and Leinster
Image: Steffon Armitage will have to come home if he wants to play for England

"Just talking to them about coaching England, it was too good an opportunity to turn down. The last World Cup side in 2015, at least 70 per cent of those guys can go into 2019. It's a great legacy that [Stuart] Lancaster has left, there's an opportunity to build something here."

The future of the three coaches who worked under previous head coach Lancaster - Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt - remains up in the air, but Jones said that they could yet remain in their posts.

Image: Nick Abendanon was named European Player of the Year in 2015

"I start on December 1 and over that period of time I will assess the coaches that are here," he said. "I want to speak to all of them individually and work out what they can offer going forward. If they can offer what I want then they are going to have a job. If they don't I will look at other options."  

Jones says that his arrival is a new start for all those who have hopes of playing for England. And as far as selection for the next game, against Scotland in the Six Nations, he says no one has been ruled in or out.

"When we play Scotland, it's a new sheet of paper," he said. "All the players out there have got an opportunity to play for England. Over the next six to eight weeks I'll be watching games, looking out for the talent and working out a style of play that is going to be effective."

Jones says one of his aims is to ensure that an Englishman takes over from him when he leaves the role.

"One of the goals is that by the next World Cup there will be a couple of assistant coaches ready to take over as the head coach," he said.

"I see that as a fundamental part of my job. I'm sure we can do that. There are good coaches in this country."

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