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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.

England make history with first series win over Australia

Six Nations champions England made history on Saturday morning as their heroic defensive effort saw them overcome Australia 23-7 in Melbourne, to secure their first ever Test Series win Down Under.

After an exhilarating opening game which saw England secure a record victory in Brisbane as they recovered from a slow start to win 39-28. On Saturday in wet, slippery conditions Eddie Jones’ side used good old fashioned English grunt to shutdown wave after wave of dangerous Australian attacks; surely the greatest defensive effort in the history of English Rugby.

With just 29% possession and 26% territory the tourists showed just how far they have come under the guidance of Jones, who must be pinching himself after his eighth consecutive victory. Their composure under pressure was quite sublime and the win was fully deserved.

Now the Grand Slam Champions who moved up to number two in the World Rankings, head to Sydney where they will be looking for a 3-0 series whitewash.

Heroic defence sets the Red Rose on the way to historic victory as Eddie Jones makes it eight consecutive victories as England Rugby Head Coach

The game started at a venomous pace with Australia once again looking to move the ball with pace, but there was also plenty of ‘niggle’ with the Wallabies using some of the oldest tricks in the book to try and disrupt their opponents.

It didn’t really work and it even backfired on them as an Australian penalty was reversed for foul play by skipper Stephen Moore.

On a sub-standard pitch at AAMI Park England were unable to generate the same level of dominance at the scrum, but it was still a great source of penalties and subsequently territory.

Just after the 20 minute mark England struck the first blow as captain Dylan Hartley rumbled over from the back of powerful driving maul – not a bad way to celebrate becoming England Rugby’s most capped hooker.

A penalty from the reliable boot of Owen Farrell made it 10-0 after 30 minutes. The Wallabies hit back through a try from Moore. Then came one of the most remarkable passages of play in English Rugby history.

The visitors managed to repel 26 phases of Australian attack deep inside the 22. Finally after three minutes of quite incredible defence the ball was spilt forward and England took a 10-7 lead into the second half.

Once again the Red Rose was called-upon to defend several dangerous forays into their 22 in the second half. The tackling of the forwards in particular Chris Robshaw, Maro Itoje and James Haskell really set the tone for the rest of the side.

Robshaw exercised the demons of his World Cup disaster with a monumental display. One crucial turnover relieved building pressure; showing that Jones is getting the best out of players who many were saying should be axed just six-months ago.

The Wallabies were unable to break the “white-wall” and with just minutes left on the clock England pounced. After a wonderful break by Courtney Lawes, the ball was deftly poked through by Jamie George and Owen Farrell dived on the ball to secure the series.

The Saracens star kicked a penalty in the 80th minute to add some gloss to the scoreboard and take his personal haul on the night to 18 points.

Jones now targeting whitewash of Australia; while Jonny Wilkinson salutes the back-row effort

The game will live-long in the memory of England fans who were suffering an embrassing exit from the World Cup just eight-months ago.

After the game Jones said the focus now switches to Sydney and a possible 3-0 series victory, saying: “We had to defend and play off scraps. That’s how we executed the game. But we’re not going to be satisfied unless we win 3-0. I thought we’d get a bit more out of the set-piece, but with the scrum collapsing all the time it was difficult to get an advantage.

While England legend Jonny Wilkinson praised the back-row after the game saying: “It is a difficult one because there are any number but at the moment I would say the England back-row have probably been stand-out performers.

For me Haskell has been the one I would say has been the most influential, the most inspirational to the team but at the same time I couldn’t really justify picking anyone over the rest of the team. It has been quite amazing to watch.”

England will take on Australia at Twickenham at the end of the 2016 Old Mutual Wealth Autumn International Series.

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