England boss Jones: Saints hooker Hartley heading in the right direction

Dylan Hartley (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Dylan Hartley (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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England boss Eddie Jones says Dylan Hartley is ‘moving in the right direction’ as the Saints hooker bids to lead his country in the Six Nations opener.

England face France at Twickenham on February 4, but Hartley has not played since December 9, when he was sent off in the Champions Cup clash with Leinster.

Hartley’s six-week suspension will conclude on Monday and he has recently been undergoing rigorous fitness tests.

He was put through a gruelling match simulation last Wednesday, with Jones keen to push his captain to the limit in a bid to assess his readiness for the France game.

And it appears Hartley, who skippered England to 13 wins from as many matches in 2016, is in the right shape for the Six Nations.

“Dylan Hartley is moving in the right direction,” Jones said.

“In the autumn we would have given him five out of 10, in terms of ready to play, and now he’s about a seven out of 10.

“Given that he has a good couple of days of training in our camp in Portugal I’d anticipate him being in the reckoning for the first Test team.

“I’ll have a look at him on Monday and Tuesday.”

England, whose squad also includes Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood and Teimana Harrison, head to Portugal today (Sunday) for a three-day warm weather training camp, to crank up preparations for the Six Nations opener.