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England 'will come up with a solution' to select flanker Sam Underhill

Published 11/05/2016

Sam Underhill, right, has impressed England coach Eddie Jones
Sam Underhill, right, has impressed England coach Eddie Jones

Ian Ritchie has vowed England "will come up with a solution" to select flanker Sam Underhill inside Eddie Jones' six-month timescale.

England would have to invoke the "exceptional circumstances" clause to their policy of ignoring overseas-based players to select back-rower Underhill if he remains with Welsh region the Ospreys.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has never yet called upon that loophole but chief executive Ritchie refused to rule that out in order to help head coach Jones launch Underhill's Test career.

Jones has admitted he wants to select Underhill "in the next six months" and Ritchie has endorsed the Australian head coach's plans.

"The first thing to say is it's up to Eddie to pick the team, he picks the team and the squad," Ritchie told Press Association Sport.

"So yes if he wants to pick him in the next few months that's a call for Eddie, and then we'll look at those other matters later on.

"That's down the line, we'll deal with that then.

"He's a talented guy who wants to play for England and I'm sure we'll come up with a solution that will deal with the matter.

"But we'll see how it goes over the next few months."

Former Gloucester flanker Underhill moved to the Ospreys to coincide with his studies at Cardiff University but has recently pledged his international future to England despite the chance to qualify for Wales on residency.

Jones is a known admirer of the 19-year-old and England chief Ritchie insisted there would be a number of ways to draft Underhill into the Test squad.

Any dilemma over the foreign player rule would evaporate should Underhill sign for a Premiership club this summer, a scenario Ritchie touched upon in discussing the talented loose forward's future.

"There's plenty of options, in the next few months there's various things," said Ritchie.

"Who knows who he's going to be playing for, what he's going to be doing, where he is.

"So we'll work on the assumption that let's see if Eddie picks him and wants to pick him.

"We know what the situation is regarding the rules, there's nothing different in that but let's see how it transpires over the next few months.

"I'm sure we'll get him involved playing for England and we'll look forward to that. He's an exciting talent."

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