Dylan Hartley has hailed the work ethic of Stephen Myler and Luther Burrell after the Saints duo were named in England’s Six Nations training squad.
Myler and Burrell, who are members of the England Saxons EPS squad, will join Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood and Lee Dickson in staking their claim for a place in the 23 for the Six Nations opener in France on February 1.
Myler made his one and only England Test appearance last summer, on the tour of Argentina, and has gone from strength to strength this season.
The 29-year-old has the best kicking percentage (84 per cent) in the Aviva Premiership and will replace Freddie Burns at the training camp, with the Gloucester man set to play for the Saxons in a bid to rediscover his form.
Uncapped centre Burrell was part of the autumn international picture, but didn’t play a game during the series.
But he and Myler have gone back to the drawing board following their omissions and worked hard to get back into the squad.
And Saints skipper Hartley said: “It’s great work and I’m really pleased for them. It’s come off the back of great team performances all season and it’s not like they’ve been given it, they’ve had to earn it.
“Stephen’s been knocking on the door for a long time and even Luther, a lot of people thought he should have been included earlier in the season.
“They’ve been told to keep their heads down, keep working and they’ve done that by backing it up with some sterling performances.”
Myler and Burrell remain in the England Saxons EPS squad, with Myler coming into the senior side in place of Burns and Burrell in as injury cover.
But one man who is new to the Saxons is Saints No.8 Sam Dickinson, who makes his way into the EPS squad after a rapid rise to prominence this season.
Dickinson broke his arm after agreeing a deal with Saints in the summer of 2012 and didn’t play a single first-team game last season.
But the former Rotherham Titans forward has been back with a bang at the beginning of the 2013/14 campaign, doing enough to impress the England coaches.
“Even if he was just back playing rugby he’d be pretty happy with that,” said Hartley. “He’s had a cracking start to the season, he’s worked hard.
“Samu (Manoa) has been playing at eight recently and Sam’s been rested so I think he’s hungry to get back in the team.
“We’ve got that sort of depth in our squad at the moment, but Sam’s call is well deserved. He’s kept his head down, got back from injury and the next thing you know he’s gone from playing Championship rugby to knocking on the England door.”