England coach Eddie Jones could risk losing out on Sam Simmonds’ talent if he continues to overlook the Exeter Chiefs star, with teams in France reportedly eager to sign the player.
Simmonds has been infamously overlooked by the national team despite helping Exeter win two Premiership titles in the past five campaigns and breaking the single-season try record last term.
The 26-year-old made his England debut in 2017 but has failed to earn a cap in the past three years, urging many to criticise Jones for overlooking the No. 8 star.
Midi Olympique reported this has encouraged Top 14 teams to elevate their interest in his talents, with Toulon understood to be at the head of the pack.
The report highlighted the back-rower’s international career as a defining factor in any transfer pursuit, with overseas-based players currently prevented from representing England.
Simmonds has been on Exeter’s books since 2012 and scored 69 tries in 103 appearances for the club, with a Premiership record 21 of those coming as they finished runners-up to Harlequins last season.
The prospect of moving to France may look all the more appealing if Simmonds isn’t confident of an England future under Jones, particularly with the lucrative salaries on offer in the Top 14.
Toulon recently confirmed the capture of South Africa winger Cheslin Kolbe from Toulouse on a deal worth a reported €1million (£860,000) per year.
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Scotland fly-half Finn Russell is also among rugby’s biggest earners at Racing 92, raking in a reported £900,000 per year at the Parisian outfit.
It’s believed Saracens prop Mako Vunipola is also a target for Top 14 teams ahead of his current contract expiring in 2022, but he’s reportedly deemed those rumours “not true.”
As well as finishing a close second in the Premiership title race last term, Simmonds was also named the Rugby Players' Association Player of the Year.
Toulon currently have Italy legend Sergio Parisse on their books, but the 37-year-old No. 8 may be in his final season with the club amid suggestions he could retire in 2022.
Simmonds was selected as part of Warren Gatland ’s British and Irish Lions squad for this summer’s tour of South Africa despite having not played for his country since March 2018.
He was unable to prevent a 2-1 series defeat after making a debut off the bench in the third and final Test, having previously scored in a 49-3 warm-up win over the Stormers.
The prolific carrier will look to use that experience as motivation he does have a future with England and will hope to impress as preparations begin for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
But Simmonds could find his way to the country by that date one way or another, whether that’s as a part of Jones’ travelling contingent or as a valued Top 14 import away from Sandy Park.
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