Hartley on course to return for England against Ireland

Ruben Hill
March 13, 2018

England have only scored two tries in their last two Six Nations matches and are now without a specialist backs coach.

Eddie Jones has given Exeter back-rower Don Armand a shock chance to add power to faltering England as they prepare to meet new Six Nations champions Ireland at Twickenham this weekend.

Rory Teague was a permanent member of the England backroom staff before leaving to coach Bordeaux in the summer of 2017, while Glen Ella and Sam Vesty have both been involved in the past in a temporary capacity. "If he's fit then he'll be playing", Jones told reporters.

A loss to the newly-crowned champions this weekend will nearly certainly not cost Jones his job, given his success in winning 24 of 27 games in charge since the start of 2016, but he is aware of how their Six Nations rivals have learned to expose England's biggest weakness in competing at the breakdown.

Jones spoke of his concern over England's breakdown deficiencies following his side's 22-16 to France on Saturday, which handed Ireland the championship, but the Australian believes the setbacks could ensure long-term gain.

"The attack can change massively if you get quick ball", Jones continued.

'I think that every good team goes through this period, it's actually an essential part of developing a great team, ' said Jones. "Sometimes you need to get the lesson before you learn - and this will be a valuable lesson for us".

"The learnings we'll get from this, albeit very painful, are absolutely crucial going forward because it is about how we respond".

"What you have to be careful of here is not listening to the amount of opinion that is out there. Now we have to fix it". Hooker Dylan Hartley, who ceded the captaincy to Owen Farrell for the first time in Paris after failing a fitness test on a calf strain, is back in light training and a decision will be made on his availability over the next couple of days. Hartley missed the tussle with Les Bleus with a calf problem.

"Dylan did some running today, it is probably looking more positive than negative".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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