Hartley: “We can’t worry about what Wales are going to do.”

England might be two wins from two and finally back at Twickenham on Saturday, but they are far from at their peak. Speaking with Northampton Saints captain Dylan Hartley, who was at an O2 For England event in Canary Wharf handing out pies to rugby fans and city workers towards the end of last week, the 36 capped hooker admits that whilst parts of their game have been encouraging thus far, others have left a bit to be desired.

“In the first game against Scotland we just didn’t have the ball, and defended for the whole game. We watch the tape on Monday morning and the coaches sit there and point out the chances we’ve missed where we just haven’t been quick enough to react. But there are chances being made, we’re just going to have to step it up a notch against Wales and it’s going to come.”

Looking back to the weekend in Italy, Hartley admits that the preparation for England’s game against the Azzurri was far from ideal due to the extreme weather in the Surrey area, and also in Rome in the build up to kickoff. “It’s harder to prepare for that kind of weather. You can play in anything really, because you’ve put all the work in during the week so that when the game comes around it doesn’t matter. But in the build-up to that match we were quite jumbled in terms of training; having one session at the O2 and then some others away from Pennyhill Park, so it was a bit disjointed and there some distractions.”

“But we came through well. In the first half we weren’t able to dictate the game and played into their hands, but we switched things up at half-time and it worked. There were a couple of errors, but I was fairly happy with the way we closed the game out. We lost three lineouts out of 16, and the ones we did win were good ball in order to create an attacking platform for the backs. That delivery can always be improved though.”

Seemingly enjoying his newfound senior status within the camp, Hartley has been impressed with the integration of many of the new faces at Pennyhill Park this spring. “Owen Farrell for such a young bloke speaks just like an experienced professional, whereas on the other hand you’ve got Lee Dickson who is slightly older but has come in and impressed. We’ve just got a very good group at the moment that’s all pushing in the same direction.”

Although England have failed to really shine in attack thus far in the tournament, their defence has proved crucial to their success in the first two matches, making 227 tackles so far. “It won us the game against Scotland and we managed to back it up in the second match against Italy. Looking ahead to Wales, it’s an area where they are very strong, with the way they rush up quickly and cause you problems.”

Facing a Wales side who have racked up six tries in two matches, along with an impressive 9 clean breaks, will mean England will be tested to the extreme this weekend, but Hartley is ready for the challenge. “We can’t worry too much about what Wales are going to do, we’ve just got to look after ourselves. We really stepped it up a notch not having a game last weekend, so training has been a lot harder in terms of physicality.”

“We need to make sure we take all these half chances. The first two games have definitely given us some confidence, but we need to step it up by 10% or so in terms of the intensity and hopefully that will carry us through.”

by Ben Coles

O2 For England – O2 customers can apply to get a free pie and pint delivered to their door to enjoy as they get behind the team in this year’s RBS 6 Nations www.O2ForEngland.co.uk

One thought on “Hartley: “We can’t worry about what Wales are going to do.”

  1. Need to step it up more than 10% The tight 5 will be crucial and to have any chance we need to the upper hand there.
    Hope Barritt and Tuilagi play Morgan at eight.

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