Dylan Hartley: England 'need to start winning'

The Hartley effect at Saints

Hooker Dylan Hartley says England will be unable to blame inexperience if they fail to impress this autumn.

Boss Stuart Lancaster has led his new-look side to four victories in eight international matches since he took England's top job in December.

Northampton Saints forward Hartley, who has 42 England caps, told BBC Look East: "We've had the Six Nations and the South Africa tour.

"This autumn is the time we need to perform and actually start winning."

Lancaster made sweeping changes to the England squad he inherited from Martin Johnson, ushering in a new generation of players for the Six Nations, where England's only defeat came at the hands of winners Wales.

The summer tour of South Africa produced less positive results, but encouraging displays, and Hartley says it is vital those performances become victories in matches against Fiji, Australia, the Springboks and New Zealand this autumn.

"We've had time now to gel and come together," said Hartley, who has recovered from an eye injury to feature in Saints' Heineken Cup group opener against Glasgow on Sunday.

"People have been saying 'it doesn't matter if they win this game because they're a young team', but I think we're past that now.

"For the England team there is a lot of work to be done there."

The Saints skipper has continuously been mentioned as a possible candidate for the captaincy in Lancaster's side.

He wore the armband for the first time in the final Test in South Africa in the absence of Chris Robshaw, who was nursing a thumb injury.

"If all the other captains fall down injured I might be able to captain the team," Hartley joked.

"Chris Robshaw is playing well at the moment and he did a fantastic job before his injury.

"Thankfully I don't have to worry about any of that. I just have to worry about playing.

"Stuart's put his trust in me. He's included me in his leadership group and he sees me as a senior player which is nice."

Jim Mallinder, Hartley's boss at Northampton, has continued his backing of the New Zealand-born forward for the national captaincy.

"I think he's a great leader. He showed what he can do for England last season when he had that opportunity," he said.

"The England coaching staff will have their views. They see everyone else more than I do. But to me Dylan Hartley is our man."