Hartley impressed by new England faces

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Captain Dylan Hartley has been impressed by the new faces in the England squad as preparations continue ahead of the NatWest 6 Nations.

England begin the defence of their title in Italy on Sunday 4 February, looking to become the first team to win the competition three times in a row.

There are eight players looking to make their first Test appearances that have been at England's training camp in Portugal and Hartley says they have settled in well.

“I think it’s good that we can keep developing the squad, keep bringing new faces in," said the Northampton Saints hooker. “I think we’ve seen in the first couple of days you either sink or swim and the guys are swimming so far.

"The early stage of this week for us was a bit more tactical and learning, and then Thursday or Friday for us is going to be physical, so we’ll see how the young fellas cope with that.

“I think there is expectation when you turn up that you’ve got to compete, you can’t just sit and watch, you’ve got to get stuck in and so far people are ripping in which is really good.

“With no game this weekend we can train at an intensity above a game so we’re looking forward to that."

Eddie's deal

Head coach Eddie Jones has extended his contract at the RFU until August 2021 and Hartley believes with his record of 22 wins in 23 games it can only be a benefit to the team.

When asked his thoughts on Jones' new deal, Hartley joked: “He's got two more years here so we’re going to get him residency soon, we’re working on that. "He’s on a mission to get better himself."

“When we come through customs [coming back from Portugal] he had to go off in that line that takes forever while we’re waiting for him at the bag claim.

Turning to a more serious mood, Hartley added: “It’s good for English rugby, definitely. The progress we’ve made over the past two years has been good under Eddie’s leadership, but we only want to improve and get better

"Knowing the type of man he is, he’s on a mission to get better himself and that’s only going to filter down to the team and everything coming through below that now as well."