England hooker George commits future to Saracens

Jamie George is the first member of Saracens’ influential England contingent to publicly commit his future to the fallen double winners.

The English and European champions will be relegated from the Gallagher Premiership in June as punishment for repeated breaches of salary cap regulations amid calls for them to be stripped of their titles.

Although details have yet to be finalised, George intends remaining at the club for next season’s campaign in the Championship despite the potential impact on his international prospects.

Saracens File Photo
Saracens will be demoted at the end of the season (Paul Harding/PA)

Saracens, England and the Lions view the time spent in the second tier of English rugby as a form of sabbatical, but George insists there is an element of the unknown in the months ahead.

“I want to stay at the club and I want to be part of the transition. That’s the plan,” George said.

“We are 80 or 90 per cent of the way to knowing what’s going on, but there are still a few bits to work out.

“I guess in a way we as players feel a responsibility to pay back what the club have given us.

“These are all very important times and we’ve got to make sure that we give everything we can back to them.

Exeter Chiefs v Saracens – Gallagher Premiership Final – Twickenham Stadium
Jamie George has pledged to stick with Saracens (Paul Harding/PA)

“As international players, we are doing stuff that’s not been done before – we’ll give that a go!

“I love the club, I’m committed to the club and next season might be an opportunity to rest a little bit more as you don’t really get that at this stage of your career.”

Saracens have exceeded the salary cap in five of the last seven seasons, incurring a total points deduction of 105 in instalments of 35 and 70 to guarantee their relegation at the end of the season.

The investigation into their figures for 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 is highly critical of their conduct, resulting in an apology from former chairman Nigel Wray.

Clermont Auvergne v Saracens – European Champions Cup – Final – BT Murrayfield
Former chairman Nigel Wray issued an apology (Mike Egerton/PA)

Wray had entered into property investments with a number of players – which he said totalled four – claiming that investment is not salary. The investigation disagreed, however.

Although Saracens’ players have been exonerated of blame, the question has been asked whether they had ever been suspicious of how so many household names had been assembled in one squad.

“Genuinely, hand on heart, I have never even thought what anyone else would be on,” George said.

“Money isn’t a factor for me at all. It’s great that we earn money doing what we love, but at the same time I grew up going to Vicarage Road with my old man. Playing for Saracens was everything. And that’s still how I feel now.

“I never wondered. We all came through at the same time and the club just seemed to be evolving and obviously then things got out of hand in the background and the accounts didn’t add up.

“That’s probably stupid from me, but it is also not my responsibility. But I genuinely didn’t think about it.”

When asked if he felt let down by Saracens’ hierarchy, George said: “It’s difficult. They have shown a huge amount of loyalty to me and remorse in terms of what they have done and that is appreciated.

“It’s right that the players don’t take the responsibility. Saracens have been very open and honest to us and the frustration for us is the times where legally they can’t tell us what is going on. But I don’t feel let down.

“The things and opportunities that Nigel Wray has given to me as a person from the age of 17… he has invested so much time into me and love so I will be forever grateful for that.”

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