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England head coach Eddie Jones has shrugged off the controversy surrounding his Saracens contingent and has vowed to try and help England become "the greatest team the game of rugby has ever seen". 

Jones was in typically bullish form when outlining the reasons for his 34-man Six Nations squad.

He's included seven members of the Saracens squad, including uncapped flanker Ben Earl.

The Sarries quotient would certainly have been one bigger were it not for a fourth broken arm in two years for number-8 Billy Vunipola.

Earl is a player that's impressed Jones in recent weeks, and could provide an option to replace Vunipola, "He's played exceptionally well for Saracens.

"He's got a bit more toughness and rigour about his game, the Saracens coaches have done a great job with him.

"I can see he's the sort of guy that's going to compete hard for that 7 [jersey], or possibly play 8".

Jones also confirmed that Exeter wing Jack Nowell requires ankle surgery, which is why the 26-year old was among the notable omissions but Jones hasn't closed the door on a return.

"The best team in the world"

59-year old Jones hasn't had his light dimmed by their World Cup final defeat to the Springboks, as he repeated his pledge to turn England into the best side in the world not once but three-times during a nine-minute press conference.

Jones feels he has a nicely-balanced squad with "the potential to be the best team in the world".

He tackled the World Cup final loss by adding, "We set out four-years ago to be the best team in the world, we missed out by the World Cup final.

"We came second, which was disappointing, but we've got another opportunity to become the best team in the world."

Unprompted, Jones ratcheted things up a notch, "We also want to be the greatest team the game of rugby as ever seen", adding, "We want to set ourselves high, we want to really see how we can extend ourselves, that's why we've brought in a number of young players to see how far this team can go."

When asked about his mindset inside what is contractually his final two-years in the job, Jones doubled down, "My aim is to make England the greatest rugby team the world has ever seen.

"I want to do it next weekend mate - why can't we? Why can't we go and play fantastic football against France?"

Saracens relegation

Despite more than a fifth of his squad hailing from Saracens, Jones doesn't feel the club's impeding relegation from the Gallagher Premiership will have an adverse effect on the likes of Maro Itoje, Jamie George or Elliot Daly.

When asked what advice Jones would give the Saracens contingent, he curtly replied, "Well get ready to play against France".

And beyond that? "Well get ready to against whoever we play against after France".

The head coach added, "All they've got to do is worry about coming in, and they're going to have a great excitement about playing for England.

"All of that business, that will get sorted out.

"It's important - and I can understand why you want to ask questions about it - it's important, but the only important thing for those boys now is to get ready and play for England."

Borthwick departure

This Six Nations campaign will also be the last with England for long-time Jones lieutenant, Steve Borthwick.

The assistant coach will step down at the end of the competition and will be replaced by former Australian rugby league great Jason Ryles.

Borthwick has worked with Jones since being appointed Japan's forwards coach in 2012.

But Jones has seen the positive side in the former Saracens and Bath forward's departure, "If I'm picking the right assistant coaches they should be leaving.

"We've seen Neil Hatley [ex-scrum coach] go back to Bath and be a significant coach. [We've seen] Paul Gustard [ex-defence coach] go back to Harlequins and be a head coach", and Jones fully expects Borthwick to be a success in his next job too.

And Ryles is no stranger to the England squad with Jones admitting, "he's done a lot of work for us over the last four years at camps in Portugal.

"I just feel the way the game's going at the minute with the attritional nature around the ruck that we needed to bring someone in that's a specialist in that area".

England begin their Six Nations campaign away to France on Sunday February 2, and they'll host Andy Farrell's Ireland in round 3 on February 23.


England Six Nations squad

Forwards Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs) Tom Curry (Sale Sharks) Tom Dunn (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped) Ben Earl (Saracens, uncapped) Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby) Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers) Jamie George (Saracens) Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors) Maro Itoje (Saracens) George Kruis (Saracens) Joe Launchbury (Wasps) Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints) Joe Marler (Harlequins) Alex Moon (Northampton Saints, uncapped) Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins) Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, uncapped) Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby) Mako Vunipola (Saracens) Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs)

Backs Elliot Daly (Saracens) Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs) Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, uncapped) Owen Farrell (Saracens) George Ford (Leicester Tigers) George Furbank (Northampton Saints, uncapped) Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby) Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby) Jonny May (Leicester Tigers) Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped) Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) Jacob Umaga (Wasps, uncapped) Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby) Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

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Ben Earl Billy Vunipola Eddie Jones England Ireland Jack Nowell Jamie George Maro Itoje Rugby World Cup Saracens Six Nations South Africa Steve Borthwick

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