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Eddie Jones says Hartley will lead England into the RBS Six Nations 2017

England Rugby Head Coach Eddie Jones has said that Dylan Hartley will lead England for the defence of their RBS Six Nations title when they face France at Twickenham on February 4th – providing the hooker proves he is fit to play.

Hartley led England through a historic 2016 as his side won 13 consecutive Test Matches including a Six Nations Grand Slam and a 3-0 series whitewash of Australia in the summer. But on returning to his club side Northampton Saints, the 30-year-old was sent-off after a swinging arm challenge and was suspended for six weeks.

Despite this latest disciplinary setback for Hartley, Jones said he will stick by his captain for the Six Nations opener, as long as he proves his match fitness at a warm-weather training camp in Portugal.

Jones said: “A prerequisite to get into the England side is to be very fit and not playing games means he needs to undergo an unbelievably stringent fitness programme over the next five or six weeks.

“He is doing that and is in the best position to continue as captain.”

Manu Tuilagi suffers another injury setback which rules him out of England training squad

After making his much anticipated return to action for Leicester Tigers last month, Manu Tuilagi had been named in the England training squad.

However the 25-year-old was again forced to miss the squad, after limping from the field with a knee injury after just eight minutes as Leicester played Saracens at the weekend.

The bulldozing centre has endured a torrid run of injury problems which have restricted him to just a handful of appearances over the past 18-months, robbing England of a world class talent capable of breaking any game wide open.

Jones expressed his disappointment at the news saying, “He was coming back into some form, getting his power back so it is enormously frustrating for him.”

There are also injury concerns over talismanic flanker Chris Robshaw who suffered a shoulder injury over the Christmas period, this would be another major blow to England who will be without Mako & Billy Vunipola for the duration of the Six Nations.

However the return to fitness of James Haskell is a huge boost for Jones and England, after the Wasps star was forced out of the Autumn Internationals with a toe injury.

One month to go until England v France – Six Nations 2017

There is just one month 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.

Don’t miss your chance to experience this historic fixture in VIP style with official England v France – Twickenham Six Nations Hospitality Packages.

Six Nations 2016 – Johnson has Hartley doubts

Rugby legend Martin Johnson has expressed his doubts at the prospect of Dylan Hartley being named captain of England by new head coach Eddie Jones for the 2016 Six Nations.

With just 24 hours to go until Jones names his first England squad, controversial hooker Hartley has emerged as the favourite to lead the side when they face Scotland in the opening round of the Six Nations 2016 – Saturday 6th February.

Hartley has not featured for England since the 2015 Six Nations and missed out on selection for the World Cup after being banned for head-butting Saracens hooker Jamie George.

The 29-year-old has been out of action for the past seven-weeks with concussion and has been unable to force his way back into the Northampton Saints starting XV. Despite his injuries and poor disciplinary record, Jones is still set to make Hartley his captain.

World Cup winning captain Johnson is concerned by the move and told Sky Sports “He’s not getting picked for his club team. He was injured on the weekend having been picked on the bench.

“What is his disciplinary record? Would I have an issue? It does not matter what I think but it probably is an issue.

“I went to the sin-bin more than a few times but I don’t think I cost my team a game.”

The iconic second-row led England to a historic year in 2003 which included a Grand Slam, away victories over New Zealand and Australia before the famous World Cup triumph in Sydney.

He added that the need for a leadership group around the captain was essential “The captaincy is important to the media but you need a group of senior players to drive things forward.”

Jones prepares to name Six Nations squad

Jones could be without several big names for the opening rounds of the 2016 Six Nations after the likes of Joe Launchbury, George Kruis and Jack Nowell suffered injuries during the weekend’s Aviva Premiership fixtures.

One bright spot was the return of centre Manu Tuilagi who played 25 minutes for Leicester Tigers in their win over Northampton. Tuilagi has been out of action for 18 months and will be itching to get back into the England set-up.

Jones has some huge calls to make before England face Ireland (Saturday 27th February) and Wales (Saturday 12th March) at Twickenham during the Six Nations.

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