Dylan Hartley watches on England train
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Steve Borthwick insists England captain Dylan Hartley is fit for Saturday’s Grand Slam collision with France in Paris.
Hartley sat out Tuesday afternoon’s training session, raising concerns he could be at risk of the missing the final assignment of the Six Nations for the newly-crowned champions.
Adding to suspicions the Northampton front row was carrying an injury was the decision to name Sale’s Tommy Taylor – also a hooker – as travelling reserve.
The only previous time a third hooker was kept at the squad’s Surrey training base was in the build up to Saturday’s 25-21 victory over Wales after Jamie George had been struck by a biceps injury. George was then ruled out of the remainder of the Six Nations.
But forwards coach Borthwick is adamant Hartley will be at the helm as England seek to complete their first Grand Slam since 2003.
“Dylan’s fine. He trained in the morning but was rested for the afternoon session,” Borthwick said.
“But he’s fine. He’s not carrying an injury, he’s good. It was a case of monitoring loads and he was rested for the afternoon session.
“For away games we take travelling reserves and we’re taking Tommy for this one. He’s going as a travelling reserve, nothing more than that.”
Prop Joe Marler faces a disciplinary hearing in London on Wednesday afternoon after being cited for elbowing Wales’ Rob Evans and is almost certain to be ruled out of the Stade de France clash.
If, as expected, Marler is banned then Mako Vunipola will start with Matt Mullan promoted to the bench.
“Joe has trained. He trained unbelievably hard yesterday and those three guys have pushed each other on really well in every session. In that sense the hearing hasn’t been disruptive,” Borthwick said.
“Matt Mullan has been excellent this Six Nations in everything he’s done. I’ve known Matt for a number of years.
“In the latter part of my England career he was in the early part of his England career.
“Every time he’s come to training he’s always been terrifically committed and done his extras.
“He’s been very competitive and been terrific. Should we need players or anything else happen we’re well prepared for that.”