England players unfazed by Saracens salary cap saga ahead of Six Nations
By James Cole, Sky Sports News reporter
Last Updated: 29/01/20 9:59pm
Sky Sports News reporter James Cole says news surrounding Saracens' salary cap breach has not affected England's preparations for the Six Nations.
The Saracens salary cap scandal may have dominated the build-up to this year's Six Nations, but there is no sense whatsoever that it has destabilised the England team.
On Tuesday, the club were docked a further 70 points, on top of the 35-point deduction in November last year, to ensure the already relegated side will finish bottom of the Premiership table this season.
Captain Owen Farrell, Mauro Itoje, Ben Earl, Jamie George, George Kruis, Elliot Daly and Mako Vunipola were all named in Eddie Jones' 34-man squad ahead of the tournament.
At their warm-weather camp on Portugal's Algarve coast, the players have aired their views openly among each other regarding the news that has dominated English rugby union over the past month.
With the Six Nations looming, Joe Marler insists the England squad have addressed the scandal as their preparations ahead of Sunday's opener in Paris against France.
The eagerly anticipated clash at the Stade de France against Fabien Galthie's side is a chance for England's Saracens players to make headlines, once again, for the right reasons.
"It's had no impact on the group whatsoever," Bath's Anthony Watson told Sky Sports News.
"We had a meeting earlier on last week and it was very amicable to be honest with you which you would expect between the players.
"I don't think it changes anything, the boys who are here are concentrating on England, and we want to win this weekend."
It looks like they will have to do so without Exeter hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, who has returned home for personal reasons which means Bath's Tom Dunn could make his debut off the bench in Paris.
Speaking ahead of Jones' side's Paris test, Dunn believes he is ready for the chance to make the step up to international rugby, in Cowan-Dickie's absence.
At 27, he is quite an experienced campaigner in club rugby, who has had a taste of life outside the goldfish bowl, with Bath University and Chippenham.
In August 2017, Dunn was invited by head coach Eddie Jones to a training camp and he was named in England's squad for the Six Nations two years ago.
England's encounter with France will constitute the first major competitive test for Jones' side since the disappointing end to their World Cup campaign last year in Japan.
The 32-12 loss to South Africa in the final in Yokohama last autumn will be fresh in the memory for Jones' players, as will their crucial 21-13 defeat to Wales in the 2019 Six Nations tournament, which ultimately led to Warren Gatland's team pipping favourites England to last year's title.
Disgruntlement and instability in the camp over the Saracens salary cap saga will be the last thing the Australian will want, as England look to respond immediately to their setbacks in 2019.