Six Nations 2017: Dylan Hartley first on England teamsheet - Eddie Jones

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
Dylan Hartley
England captain Dylan Hartley was replaced after 46 minutes of the victory over Wales
Six Nations: England v Italy
Venue: Twickenham Date: Sunday, 26 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

England captain Dylan Hartley was the "first name on the teamsheet" for Sunday's Six Nations match against Italy, says head coach Eddie Jones.

Replacement hooker Jamie George has impressed after coming on for Hartley, 30, early in the second half of the victories over France and Wales.

But the 26-year-old will again be on the bench at Twickenham on Sunday.

"There was never any doubt Dylan was going to be captain and never any doubt he was going to start," said Jones.

Northampton's Hartley has led England since Jones took over, and was confirmed as captain for the Six Nations despite serving a six-week suspension for striking an opponent shortly before the tournament started.

"Obviously Jamie is disappointed, because he wants the spot," said Jones. "And at some stage he will get it. Dylan can't play until he's 50.

"We had [England cricketer] Alastair Cook at training today, and he has played 140 Tests, and you don't play 140 Tests as a hooker, because the game is a lot more exacting."

Centre Owen Farrell, who will win his 50th cap aged 25 on Sunday, has led the side when Hartley has been replaced, and the pair have been rooming together at the team hotel this week.

"He's my room-mate, and makes my coffees in the morning," Hartley said. "He's a hell of a singer - he sings in the shower.

"But for a relatively young guy, he is wise beyond his years. The way he turns up every day, the way he approaches things - he puts 100% in.

"He's a hell of a role model for guys in the team."

England finishers 'best in the world'

England came from behind late on to beat both France and Wales.

And Jones believes the strength in depth in his side's matchday squad is better than any other country in the world.

The likes of George, Ben Youngs and Jack Nowell are among the replacements against the Azzurri.

"We have picked a strong side, right from 1 to 23," Jones added.

"If you look at the quality of our bench, I don't think there is any team in the world that has that quality."

Conte an 'impressive' visitor

Conte takes tips from England rugby team

As well as Cook, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was a guest in camp this week, and shared philosophies with the England coaching staff.

Jones says he was highly impressed by the Italian, and is not concerned about Conte passing on any classified information to Sunday's opponents.

"I don't think he knows too much about rugby, so I'm not that worried he is going to share any secrets with the Italians," Jones said.

"He's a very impressive guy, I really liked his attitude and the way he spoke about the way he developed his team.

"You can see his team play hard and run hard. Obviously that comes from him and his desire."


England: Brown, May, Te'o, Farrell, Daly, Ford, Care, Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Haskell, Hughes.

Replacements: George, M Vunipola, Sinckler, Wood, Clifford, Youngs, Slade, Nowell.

Italy: Padovani, Bisegni, Campagnaro, McLean, Venditti, Tommaso Allan, Edoardo Gori, Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Cittadini, Fuser, Van Schalkwyk, Steyn, Favaro, Parisse.

Replacements: Gega, Rizzo, Ceccarelli, George Biagi, Mbanda, Bronzini, Canna, Benvenuti.

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