Dylan Hartley Is Facing Exclusion From England’s Six Nations Squad
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Dylan Hartley is facing exclusion from the England Six Nations squad unless he can pass a special gruelling fitness test.
The skipper is currently serving a six week ban as a result of a swinging arm challenge on Leinster’s Sean O’Brien in the Champions Cup, and must pass a gruelling “test simulation” conditioning test in Northampton on Wednesday to prove he is fit to captain England for the Six Nations opener against France.
Hartley’s ban ends just before the crucial opener, meaning he will not have played any rugby in over six weeks by the time the game comes around.
In fact his latest ban, which brings him up to a career total of sixty weeks means he will have played just six minutes of competitive rugby, since England’s victory over Australia at Twickenham on December 3rd.
Hartley will undergo the test, which will use state-of-the-art GPS technology, under the supervision of one of England’s coaching team and Jones is expected to name his captain for the Six Nations once he has received the data.
“Dylan has a game simulation on Wednesday, so we’ll have a pretty good idea how he’s shaping up then,” said Jones.
“That means he does a session that’s the equivalent of a game. A Test game of rugby is approximately 36 minutes of ball in play. You have to run around 120 metres per minute, that’s the average speed. He’s got to be able to do a session of that quality and if he can do a session of that quality he can do a game.
“It’s just him doing the session by himself. It’s old school, run hard, get up, get off the ground, run again. We’ve got all the GPS that measures everything.
“We’ll decide on Wednesday one minute after he’s done the session because we’re going to name the squad on Friday. We’ve got the Six Nations launch next Wednesday so we need to name it then.
“I’m anticipating him to go well because all his training parameters are good so far. It’s like having a racehorse that does trials – if they run fast in the trials there’s a good chance they’re going to run fast in the race.”
Hartley has been keep himself fit while out, but this latest development puts his Six Nations spot in serious jeopardy, should he be unable to pass, given how strict a coach Jones can be.