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Thursday 23rd
posted by Morning Star in Sport

England players refuse to give up a fraction of their £23,000 match fee to help Samoan counterparts, though RFU will make a goodwill donation

ENGLAND’S players selfishly opted against giving a portion of their match fee to their Samoan counterparts yesterday ahead of Saturday’s clash at Twickenham.

Anthony Watson revealed that the possibility of donating part of the £23,000 they are paid for each Test — as recently suggested by Mako Vunipola — would be discussed this week.

Samoa’s union, who pay players a match fee of £600, has been declared bankrupt by its chair but this is denied by World Rugby.

Captain Dylan Hartley raised the issue among the senior player group and it was decided that they would not supplement the £75,000 goodwill gesture promised to the Pacific islanders by the Rugby Football Union.

“As players we feel it isn’t our place to get involved in what appears to be a complex issue between the Samoan union and World Rugby,” an RFU spokesperson said in a statement issued on behalf of the players.

“We are aware that the RFU has pledged to make a goodwill gesture to them on behalf of everyone involved with England and we support that decision.

“As players we look forward to playing Samoa this weekend as I am sure they are too.”

England’s preparations for the climax to their autumn have been affected by the loss of Nathan Hughes to knee bruising, robbing Eddie Jones’s men of a second ball-carrying No 8 after Billy Vunipola was lost for the entire series due to injury.

Hughes was influential in the wins against Argentina and Australia and his ability to propel England over the gainline will be missed, especially in the absence of an alternative who offers similar power.

Sam Simmonds of Exeter is likely to fill the 26-year-old’s boots, but Chris Robshaw is also a possibility as England find themselves compelled to field a makeshift back row against Samoa.

“Nathan took a knock in training last week that was relatively innocuous — it was a bang, nothing more,” forwards coach Steve Borthwick said.

“He was assessed after the Australia game and it was felt that he needed a period of recovery just to rest and to get it right so he is fully ready to go for the rest of the season.

“Nathan’s been excellent. He’s carried the ball well and punched holes. His effect on the other players has also been excellent.”

Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph have been sent back to Bath after being deemed surplus to requirements for Saturday.

“They’ve played a fair amount of rugby this is an opportunity this week to ensure we look at other players and challenge our squad in different ways,” Borthwick said.