- Dylan Hartley hails the rapid progress made at Leeds training camp
- England hooker talks about on and off the field gains
Dylan Hartley believes England are in the right place to approach the Scotland Test week after achieving their goals at the week-long RBS 6 Nations training camp in Leeds.
Given the fresh nature to Stuart Lancaster’s squad – with 13 newcomers from the world cup campaign– the group faced two challenges: gelling as a cohesive unit rugby unit and getting to know each another off the pitch.
Starting with the playing side, Northampton Saints skipper Hartley is pleasantly surprised with the progress the side have made in just five days and says they have a base to build upon ahead of the imminent clash at Murrayfield.
The 25-year-old said: “I’m surprised at how fast it has all come together, we’ve got a lot done on the field.
“I haven’t been coached by Stuart before but I’ve been in and around him so I know what sort of a character he is. His style is direct and simple, and I think that sums up the past few days.
“We’ve achieved everything that we’ve needed to. Training has been short and sharp but we have an understanding of how we want to play.”
Big challenges off the field
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England’s game plan will be furnished with the details to defeat Andy Robinson’s side on February 4 at Pennyhill Park next week so Hartley thinks the task of getting to know the new players was more significant.
“Off the field is the big challenge for us here,” he added. We’ve had so many new people come into the group that it’s a new challenge, new start and it’s exciting.
“Playing quality wise it comes naturally, players have been picked here because of their performances in the Premiership and Heineken Cup and they’ll slot right it, that’s the easy bit.
“The last few days have been about meeting and greeting people, getting that culture, getting together and we want to leave here knowing we’ve done everything we can to gel so Monday we can turn up and starting concentrating fully on how we will beat Scotland.”
Photo: Getty Images
Lancaster has put great emphasis on a culture of humility and various events through the week have been aimed at engendering that within the squad.
These have ranged from inspiring and passionate guest speakers such as rugby league’s Kevin Sinfield, football’s Gary Neville and British war veteran Simon Brown to coaching under 13s and training sessions in front of the public.
And the over-arching impact of this is not lost on Hartley: “We want to be known as hard-working, respectful, humble, all those things.
“We trained against Leeds University, which was cool for them and also cool for us, and we’re also coaching kids too. Not forgetting where you’ve come from and what it’s about is important.
“Owen Farrell and me are forming a coaching dream team: he might be able to get a few moves in there but I’ve already said to him we can get a 12-man maul going and grind it out.”