Hartley: Competition is good
Dylan Hartley is determined to reclaim the England hooker's jersey from Tom Youngs, but admits the fierce competition for places in the squad can only be a good thing.
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Hartley replaced Youngs for the final 35 minutes of England's emphatic 38-18 victory over Scotland last weekend, but looks likely to have to satisfy himself with a spot back on the bench for this weekend's clash against Ireland in Dublin.
The Northampton front-rower is happy to wait his turn given Youngs' impressive form, but insists he will continue working hard to keep his Leicester counterpart on his toes.
"For me at the moment it's all about opportunities," he told Sky Sports. "I was injured and out for five weeks and Tom's come in and done a good job, but it's about coming on and playing well when I get my chance and putting a bit of pressure on him.
"Like any team, competition is healthy. If you look at myself and Tom, I think I'm getting the best out of Tom by pushing him at the moment and in the centre partnership it's the same thing there.
"It's important and it's healthy, you get the best out of people that way."
England's centre partnership is another area of intense competition with Brad Barritt, Billy Twelvetrees and the fit-again Manu Tuilagi all vying for selection this week.
Tuilagi seems set to get the nod to start against Ireland, but rookie Twelvetrees has given coach Stuart Lancaster plenty to think about with his try-scoring debut against the Scots and could yet retain his place in the team.
Whoever gets the nod, Hartley is only to aware of the task facing England this weekend and re-iterated the need to make a good start at Aviva Stadium.
"Manu is obviously a big physical presence for us," Hartley continued. "Billy did well last week, he came in and had a fantastic debut, but Manu brings something different to Billy and I'm just thankful I'm not making the decisions this week.
"Two years ago we went out there (Ireland) and got a bit of a hiding, so four us just turning up mentally and physically in that first half is going to be key."