- Dylan Hartley chats to RFUtv about the increased ferocity of England training
- Hooker relishes bone-on-bone crunching training and return to live scrummaging
England’s Rugby World Cup training camp has reached the stage full contact rugby sessions and Dylan Hartley says he is relishing the bone-on-bone crunching tackles as the intensity steps up a notch.
The Northampton Saints hooker feels it was time to increase the ferocity of contact after weeks of fitness and conditioning, with the front rows especially savouring the chance to get stuck into some live scrummaging.
The 25-year-old said: "It was a bit of a shock to the system, less emphasis on fitness and weights and more emphasis on bone-on-bone crunching tackles and getting your head in rucks where most people wouldn’t put them.
"But it was much needed, the first day is always the hardest and that’s done now.
"The front row is a whole different game really, we did about half an hour of live scrummaging and my neck and shoulders are feeling a bit worse for wear now. When you’ve had two months without hitting a scrum the first day is always hard. But as I say it was much needed and we took a lot out of it."
Photo: Getty Images
England are 17 days away from the sell-out Investec International against Wales at Twickenham Stadium and 28-cap Hartley is the man in possession of the No.2 shirt after starting the last eight Test matches.
But there is no sense of complacency as Hartley considers his last match – the 24-8 RBS 6 Nations defeat to Ireland – as a poor personal performance and says the competition between the hookers is pushing them all to improve.
Hartley, who is competing with London Wasps’ Steve Thompson, Bath Rugby’s Lee Mears and Leicester Tigers’ George Chuter, added: "Healthy competition brings the best out of people.
"I can’t be complacent; I was the last person to wear the two shirt for England and was the person who didn’t play very well against Ireland, and neither did the team.
"I’ve got three other players chasing me and trying to get that shirt off my back. As it stands I see it as a clean slate and I’ve got to earn that shirt, and I want to be involved in that first game [against Wales]."