Saints star Hartley relishing England’s ‘massive’ Australia tour

Dylan Hartley (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Dylan Hartley (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Saints star Dylan Hartley says there would be no better place for England to win than in Australia’s own back yard.

And the national team captain fully believes that he and his team-mates can triumph in next month’s three-Test tour down under.

Hartley skippered England to Six Nations glory during February and March, and they finished that campaign by winning in France to secure the Grand Slam.

The Saints man was knocked unconscious in the game at Stade de France, but he recently returned to action from the bench in his club’s Aviva Premiership final-day victory at Gloucester.

And Hartley is now ready and raring to go as he links up with the England squad for this week’s training camp in Brighton ahead of the Old Mutual Wealth Cup match against Wales at Twickenham on May 29.

After that, England will head to Australia, with the first of three Test matches taking place at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on June 11.

And when asked about his county’s chances against the Aussies, Hartley said: “There would be no point me going if I didn’t think we could go to Australia and win.

“If we want to be the best, we’ve got to beat the best and what better place to do that than against Australia in their own back yard.

“I’m looking forward to it and I’ve got a highly-motivated squad that want to do that as well.”

Back in March, England sealed their first Grand Slam since 2003, but Hartley says the side need to improve if they are to win a series down under.

“We progressed” he said. “Our main goal was to get better and improve over the Six Nations and to win the tournament and we did that.

“We went up in the world rankings. The next step is to play the number one and two sides in the world in New Zealand and Australia and we’ve got Australia.

“We need to recap the Six Nations and what made us tick there.

“We need to progress and we need to get better, we can’t play the same standard of rugby as we did in the Six Nations.

“It’s another step up but it’s exciting.”

Hartley has twice missed out on playing a Test series in Australia with injury ruling him out with England and suspension for the British and Irish Lions.

And he admits he is hugely excited for what the next six weeks will bring.

“The opportunity is massive,” he said. “To take on Australia and get a result, a series win down under would be unbelievable for this team.

“Growing up in New Zealand my dad always used to say ‘why would you ever want to go to Australia, we’ve got all the beaches here in New Zealand?’

“I’ve never been and I’m really excited.

“I want to experience it, I’m looking forward to experiencing Australian culture, sightseeing, doing all the touristy things and enjoying a bit of sun, some sea food and maybe a couple of cold beers on June 25.”