West hails Saints skipper Hartley for reaching England half-century

SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT - Dylan Hartley will make his 50th appearance for England when they face New Zealand
SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT - Dylan Hartley will make his 50th appearance for England when they face New Zealand

Dorian West has heaped praise on Dylan Hartley as the Saints skipper prepares to win his 50th England cap.

Hartley is in the starting line-up for the clash with world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.

The Northampton hooker has held off the challenge of Leicester Tigers’ Tom Youngs, having produced a man of the match performance in the win against Argentina last weekend.

And West is delighted for his charge, who has battled past some disciplinary problems, including a sending off in last season’s Premiership final, to remain at the pinnacle of the game.

“I’m really pleased for Dylan,” said the Saints forwards coach. “He’s deserved it. He’s had a few knocks along the way, but he’s worked hard, he’s kept his game to a high standard and he deserves to be starting.

“He keeps his focus, we talk to him a lot, we know what he’s thinking, what he’s trying to work on, what he’s trying to improve and mentally where he’s at.

“We know Dylan inside out, we know what he’s about, his ethics are good, he does a good job for Northampton and he’s doing a good job for England at the moment.

“Everybody improves to a certain amount but he’s playing at a very high standard and he just needs to maintain that.”

Hartley is one of five Saints players starting for England against the All Blacks, with Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Lee Dickson and Ben Foden also in the first 15.

And West has been impressed with his men, who have already helped the Red Rose record victories over Australia and Argentina this autumn.

“It’s very pleasing,” said West. “If Alex Corbisiero hadn’t got injured I think we would have had six starting so we’re obviously doing something right at the Saints and it’s really pleasing.

“I think they’ve all been really good so far. Dylan’s impact has been good and when he started last week his first-half performance was really up there.

“Courtney’s been doing a new role, sorting the lineouts out, which is good. He’ll only get better with time.

“Woody’s been doing his normal stuff, working his socks off, getting around the pitch and carrying the ball, winning lineouts, making tackles, all the stuff we’re used to.

“Lee Dickson’s played really well, given them some good tempo and it’s good to see Fodes getting in on the wing. He’s got a lot to offer, we know that here and hopefully they will all put it into practice this weekend again.”