Six Nations: England captain Dylan Hartley 'improving his tackling'

Dylan Hartley (left) is sent off against Leinster
Hartley (left) was dismissed just six minutes after coming on as a replacement against Leinster

England captain Dylan Hartley has been doing extra tackling practice to help prevent a recurrence of the red card that led to his current six-week ban.

The Northampton hooker caught Leinster flanker Sean O'Brien with a swinging arm during a game on 9 December.

Hartley will be available to play for the Grand Slam champions in their opening Six Nations match on 4 February and is expected to be named as captain.

"He's been proactive in improving his tackling," said coach Paul Gustard.

Hartley was sent off for the third time in his career in the Champions Cup game against Leinster and the tightening of rules over head contact in reckless tackles came into force five days later.

"He was remorseful about the tackle because he let people down," the England defence coach Gustard told BBC Radio 5 live.

"Over the last six or seven weeks he's worked hard on conditioning and he's managed to address a couple of things in terms of injuries and I've done a couple of training sessions with Dylan on tackle technique.

"He has asked us and he has asked Mark Hopley at Northampton for extra tackle technique.

"He is proactive in doing extras post training with [fellow Northampton player] Teimana Harrison and developing so that sort of incident doesn't happen."

Hartley was sent off just six minutes after coming on as a replacement for Northampton - his only game time in the last two months.

Gustard said Hartley, who has won 79 England caps, would be having "a week of intense training in Portugal" where he will be "expected to do a lot of tackling".

He added: "What we have seen so far he is impressing us. He has lost a bit of weight, he is looking lean and he has been working on his skills not just the tackle but throwing and other core skills.

"We are looking forward to having him in. It's great to have him back in and I think he will come good in the Six Nations."

Top Stories

Get Inspired Activity Finder

Run by the BBC and partners

Find ways to get active near you: