England hold clear-the-air talks over Saracens issue ahead of Six Nations

England insist they will enter the Guinness Six Nations with a united squad following clear-the-air talks held to address the Saracens salary cap scandal.

All 34 players taken to Portugal for a pre-championship training camp gathered in the dining room of their Algarve base to voice any grievances held towards the double-winners’ seven-strong contingent.

Saracens are to be relegated from the Premiership in June for operating above the £7million salary cap in the current season, the fifth such breach of the regulations in seven years.

It raised the prospect of key England players such as Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola being the subject of ill-will from their international team-mates, but assistant coach Matt Proudfoot insists there are no divisions.

“The players have had a chat. It was players-only,” said Proudfoot, Steve Borthwick’s successor as forwards coach.

“I’m new to the camp, but from a coaching perspective the interaction between the players has been really good.

“I’ve been trying to forge relationships with the players and been watching them sitting around the table talking and having banter.

“They’ve been very jokey like any rugby players are. I took that as being very positive.”

England open their Six Nations title pursuit against France in Paris on February 2 before heading to Edinburgh to face Scotland six days later.

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