Hartley defends Cole’s work at the scrum

Date published: December 2 2016

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England captain Dylan Hartley has stressed that his side’s scrum is “clean” and defended his underfire team-mate Dan Cole.

Cole has been accused of scrummaging illegally in the past by Australia and the message has been the same in the run-up to Saturday’s Test at Twickenham.

“That same prop’s been infringing the law since his career started probably, if not all of this year,” were the words of Australia boss Michael Cheika earlier this week.

Hartley countered Cheika’s claim by saying that reports from the officials after matches had suggested that England’s scrum had been legal throughout the year.

“You don’t stumble across 60-odd caps scrummaging illegally,” Hartley told the BBC.

“The directives we get back from the refs always say that England have a good, clean scrummage.”

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Hartley knows Cole well both as a team-mate and as an opponent from the pair’s time on opposite sides playing for Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers respectively.

The England captain described Cole as “a rock” and tough to play against.

“I play against Cole a couple of times a year and it’s always very difficult against him. He’s a rock, like every tighthead should be,” he added.

“There’s plenty for us to work on and we’re looking for that complete scrummaging performance this weekend because this team is underpinned by a dominant set-piece and that’s what we want to provide.”

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