Friday 15 December 2017

Hartley: England can handle cauldron

Dylan Hartley
Dylan Hartley

Nigel Whittaker

Dylan Hartley insists that England will not be intimidated by a hostile reception in the first Test against Argentina tonight.

The hosts are anticipating a 25,000 capacity crowd in San Juan, an outpost for the Argentinian game in the shadow of the Andes, and say the tourists can expect a raucous atmosphere.

England will also be severely handicapped by the absence of a raft of experienced players, largely due to Lions call-ups, but coach Eddie Jones is relishing the opportunity to throw a host of newcomers into the cauldron.

Hartley, who was in the England team that lost 24-22 to the Pumas in Salta eight years ago, supported his coach's stance as he prepared to win his 85th cap, moving ahead of former captain Martin Johnson and alongside Rory Underwood and Lawrence Dallaglio as the third most capped England international of all time.

"We want to grow the depth of the squad and push the team forward. These are the places we want to come to play and test ourselves," he said.

Among the new faces are Sale flanker Tom Curry, who at 18 years and 360 days will become the youngest player to start a Test for England since Colin Laird in 1927, and Newcastle back-row Mark Wilson.

Jones has urged the newcomers to ensure they do not become one-cap wonders. "We want to bring blokes through who play in 20, 30, 40, 50 Tests. When you have got players who have played 40 or 50 Tests you know you have got a winning team.

"You don't expect them to be world beaters on their first start - it's the start of a process. "I remember giving Matt Giteau his debut (for Australia) when he was 19 and still an amateur player.

"He went on and played 103 Tests but in his first Test he was terrible."

England - M Brown; M Yarde, H Slade, A Lozowski, J May; G Ford, D Care; E Genge, D Hartley (capt), H Williams, J Launchbury, C Ewels, M Wilson, T Curry, N Hughes.

Reps: J Singleton, M Mullan, W Collier, N Isiekwe, D Armand, J Maunder, P Francis, D Solomona.

Argentina - J Tuculet; M Moroni, M Orlando, J De la Fuente, E Boffelli; N Sanchez, M Landajo; L Noguera; A Creevy (capt), E Pieretto, M Alemanno, T Lavanini, P Matera, J Ortega Desio, J M Leguizamon.

Ref - N Owens (Wales).

Argentina v England,

Live, BBC 2, 8.15pm

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