Hartley says England are ready for All Blacks challenge

Dylan Hartley

Dylan Hartley

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Dylan Hartley insists England are preparing for battle at Twickenham where they welcome New Zealand for the QBE Autumn Internationals opener on Saturday.

The 28-year-old hooker will be hoping to inspire his side to their first win over the All Blacks in five matches and banish the painful memories of a 3-0 series defeat in New Zealand this summer.

Hartley admits taking on the world champions at home is always a daunting challenge, but the All Blacks saw a 22-game unbeaten streak come to an end at the hands of South Africa last month.

And the Saints captain believes England are well-placed to exact revenge on Steve Hansen’s side in front of the 80,000-strong crowd at the home of rugby.

“New Zealand are a brilliant side. They’re world number one but we’ve got to be confident that we can compete,” said the Kiwi-born, Northampton skipper.

“Every time we play at Twickenham that expectation for us to win is there and it’s brilliant that we have the crowd and the nation behind us. Hopefully we can kick on as a group.

“It wasn’t a year ago that we played the All Blacks, it was only a couple of months ago so it’s fresh in our minds what to expect and we’re fully prepared for the challenge.

“This autumn is a great chance for us to focus on performance. Everyone is talking about the World Cup but we are thinking about the here and now.

“If we can perform well out there on Saturday, I’m sure the result will come.”

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