Borthwick defends Hartley

Date published: February 18 2017

England forwards coach Steve Borthwick has defended captain Dylan Hartley’s place in the national starting side.

The hooker’s selection as the starting number two has raised a few eyebrows recently, prompted by the scintillating form of understudy hooker Jamie George.

George replaced Hartley in their away win over Wales last weekend just halfway into the game raising speculation whether the England coaching staff still rated Hartley as the number one hooker in the country.

Borthwick has since shrugged off that speculation.

“Dylan has been fantastic. He has been a brilliant captain,” Borthwick told reporters.

“I say that from the experience of looking at what he has done and the challenges the England captain faces.

“He has been fantastic and the level of his performance has been excellent also. I coach those players very, very closely. We have two top quality players competing for that position and that is an enviable position that lots of people would look at.

“In Dylan we have a brilliant captain. I don’t just mean match day, I mean every minute of every day he has been a brilliant captain for us.”