With just over one week to go until the start of the RBS Six Nations Championships 2017, the captains and coaches from each side gathered for the launch of ‘Rugby’s Greatest Championship’ and all eyes were on England.
England enter the tournament as the defending Grand Slam Champions, and Eddie Jones’s side will be the side everybody wants to take down after their perfect campaign in 2016 – which saw them win 13 consecutive Tests.
Hartley set to lead England as they defend their Six Nations crown
At the Six Nations launch on Wednesday, Jones confirmed that Dylan Hartley will again lead the side, with his six-week ban for striking Sean O’Brien ending at the start of the week.
Hartley will captain his side for the opening game against France at Twickenham on Saturday 4th February 2017 – where England could surpass their greatest ever winning streak of 14 matches set in 2002/03.
Jones made the announcement at the press conference saying: “I haven’t actually told him… shall I say now? I’d like to announce Dylan’s the captain.
“I think he’s ready. He trained well on Tuesday and has still got a couple of days to go. We’re pleased to have him back. It’s the continuity of the job.”
Haskell ‘touch and go’ for Six Nations opener with France at Twickenham
Jones also offered an updated on the fitness of flanker James Haskell, who missed the squads training camp in Portugal with injury. His participation in the opening game with France is likely to go down to the wire.
Haskell was a key member of the England team that took the Six Nations by storm and made history by beating Australia 3-0 Down Under. But the Wasps star missed the entire Autumn Internationals campaign with a toe injury.
He returned to action against Leicester earlier this month, but was knocked out after 35-seconds but he did play 60-minutes in the Champions Cup clash with Zebre.
The back-row could be an area of real concern for Jones, who is already missing Billy Vunipola and Chris Robshaw. The absence of Haskell and Jack Clifford (who also missed the Portugal camp) could see Maro Itoje switch to blindside flanker, with Tom Wood continuing at openside flanker.
England Six Nations 2017 Hospitality Packages
There is less than one-week to go until the start of the RBS Six Nations as Twickenham hosts England v France in the fixture known as ‘Le Crunch’.
Victory for England would see them break the longest ever winning streak, set by the World Cup winning side in 2002/03.
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