Saints hooker Hartley to stay with England

Dylan Hartley (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Dylan Hartley (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Dylan Hartley will remain with England this week, rather than be released to play for Saints.

Hartley, still short of game time following a six-week suspension for a high tackle on Leinster’s Sean O’Brien, played for 47 minutes in Saturday’s defeat of Wales in Cardiff as England made it two RBS 6 Nations wins from two.

Saracens hooker Jamie George, his replacement, performed well, putting Hartley’s starting position under scrutiny for the February 26 clash with Italy at Twickenham as England seek a 17th consecutive Test win.

And it had been suggested that Hartley should seek to play for Saints in Sunday’s Aviva Premiership game at Newcastle to accrue valuable match fitness in a fallow Six Nations week.

However, assistant coach Paul Gustard said: “He’s the captain of our team and it’s important that he stays with us and trains with us.”

James Haskell will also stay with the squad, rather than play for Wasps at Sale on Sunday.

Gustard felt Hartley’s performance was improved on the previous week against France and lauded his captaincy role under head coach Eddie Jones.

“A lot goes through Dylan as a conduit to the team. He does it brilliantly,” Gustard said.

“He has a great relationship with Eddie. That is clear to see. There is mutual respect there.”