Sinckler and Ludlam to join French exodus
THE exodus of England players to France looks set to continue with forwards Kyle Sinckler and Lewis Ludlam being lined up to join Toulon.
England head coach Steve Borthwick has already seen Jack Willis, Jack Nowell, Sam Simmonds, Henry Arundell, David Ribbans and Joe Marchant move to the Top 14 in the last years.
Willis and Arundell’s exits were forced on them by the demise of their clubs Wasps and London Irish, but the others were drawn primarily by lucrative contracts. The Premiership salary cap is set to increase next season but England’s top players can still earn far more in France. Bristol prop Sinckler and Northampton captain
Ludlam are now likely to join the French ranks with threetime European champions Toulon, who have previously employed Jonny Wilkinson, Chris Ashton and the Armitage brothers.
It will once again raise questions over the RFU’s strict selection criteria, which blocks overseas players from representing England. Those in the game worry that the blood-letting is not about to let up soon, as Top 14 clubs cherry pick our stars.
‘It’s at this time of year contracting for next season starts to be done and clubs are made aware of who is available,’ a well-placed source told Mail Sport.
‘I saw a list of available players recently and half the England squad was on it.’ Arundell, one of England’s brightest young talents, has signed for Racing 92 but will be given an exemption to play in the Six Nations next spring, after which he will be lost to Borthwick.
Ludlam and Owen Farrell are two of England’s World Cup stars returning straight to Premiership duty today, eight days after they clinched a bronze medal in France. Ludlam would be a huge loss for the Saints, though the blow would be softened as Courtney Lawes has retired from England duty. Ludlam starts at No 8 for Saints against Bath today. England captain Farrell is one of seven Saracens who played in France who will feature for Mark McCall’s men against Leicester in the weekend’s big Premiership game. Farrell, Elliot Daly, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Ben Earl and Billy Vunipola all start the meeting with the Tigers and Theo Dan is on the bench as hooker back-up to George. Harlequins’ England pair Joe Marler and Marcus Smith are replacements for their game with Newcastle. Another English-based player set for a move to France is the Falcons’ livewire Argentina winger Mateo Carreras, who is expected to sign for Bayonne.