Con­fi­dent Eng­land will not be fazed by ‘aura’ of All Blacks, says Hart­ley

For­mer Eng­land cap­tain tells Char­lie Mor­gan that fear will not prove a fac­tor in the semi-fi­nal

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup - Dy­lan Hart­ley was tak­ing part in the Jeep Wran­gler Trick Shot Chal­lenge trick­shot

Dy­lan Hart­ley has never been cowed by rep­u­ta­tions and the for­mer Eng­land cap­tain be­lieves the side who con­test to­mor­row’s World Cup semi-fi­nal will be sim­i­larly un­fazed by New Zealand.

Hart­ley, who was ruled out of the World Cup in the sum­mer through in­jury, is adamant that there will be no fear fac­tor for Ed­die Jones’s side.

“I think the me­dia build this aura for them,” Hart­ley said of the All Blacks. “They win games be­cause they are bet­ter than other teams. They lose games be­cause the other team is bet­ter on the day.

“As a player, I have never gone into a game think­ing that we couldn’t beat them. I don’t know if that’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing a player and be­ing a fan or a journo, but, as a player, you are a com­peti­tor. You al­ways be­lieve you can win.

“[New Zealand] have earned their ti­tle. They have earned two suc­ces­sive World Cups. [But] Eng­land have Lions play­ers who have beaten them in New Zealand. The team that played last Novem­ber came within a point. The team will be­lieve.”

Hart­ley, 33, has faced New Zealand eight times across his 97-cap Test ca­reer, com­ing clos­est to vic­tory last Novem­ber at Twick­en­ham in what could turn out to be his fi­nal match as cap­tain – he and Owen Far­rell shared re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that day.

The hosts opened a 15-0 lead be­fore los­ing 16-15. Af­ter scor­ing Eng­land’s sec­ond try from a 13-man driv­ing maul, Hart­ley was re­placed at hooker by Jamie Ge­orge at half-time. Scott Bar­rett, start­ing this week­end in New Zealand’s back row, then ar­rived from the bench to help the All Blacks dom­i­nate the line-out.

Even so, Steve Hansen’s men were in­debted to Sam Un­der­hill’s dis­al­lowed try in the fi­nal mo­ments, which was chalked off due to an off­side of­fence from Court­ney Lawes in the build-up.

Hart­ley ex­plained that Eng­land could take heart from that per­for­mance, as well as a Manu Tuilagi-in­spired tri­umph in 2012. There is also the fact that eight of Eng­land’s start­ing side were in­volved in the Bri­tish and Ir­ish

‘Ed­die talks about win­ning and the more you talk about it, the more you want to be a win­ner’

Lions’ win over New Zealand in Welling­ton two years ago.

Hav­ing worked closely with Jones, lead­ing the side to 17 con­sec­u­tive wins across 2016 and 2017 to be­gin the Aus­tralian’s ten­ure, Hart­ley also her­alded the in­flu­ence of the coach.

“Ed­die is a le­gend,” he said. “I loved work­ing with him. I ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­thing he gave to me, the men­tor­ing he gave me and the way he prod­ded me to get the best out of me.

“I sit back now, not in that camp and not in that en­vi­ron­ment, and I en­joy watch­ing him. Just from the stuff he says in the me­dia, I think he is bril­liant for the game. Play­ers can learn from that.

“He brings colour, he brings per­son­al­ity. It’s good to see. Un­for­tu­nately, in this day and age, a lot of that per­son­al­ity that you guys crave in the me­dia is drummed out of the play­ers.

“They are too cau­tious, they are too aware. I think Ed­die is great for the game in that re­spect, along with be­ing a good coach – metic­u­lous in ev­ery­thing he does.”

New Zealand-born Hart­ley re­vealed that his par­ents al­ways wanted the All Blacks to pre­vail in the An­glo-kiwi en­coun­ters that fea­tured their son. How­ever, Jones, who sent a catch-up text to Hart­ley just this week, has in­vig­o­rated the Eng­land set-up since out­lin­ing his aim to be­come the best team in the world from “day one”.

“He is a com­peti­tor and that is what you want as a coach,” Hart­ley said. “He talks openly about win­ning and the more you talk about win­ning, the more you want to be a win­ner.

“For too long, we tip­toed around the idea of talk­ing about win­ning. There is noth­ing wrong with say­ing you want to win. We get caught up with be­ing re­spect­ful and hum­ble. You can be those things, but we are there to win. Ed­die com­mu­ni­cates that to the team, he com­mu­ni­cates it pub­licly. There’s noth­ing wrong with that. It’s what we needed.”

Aus­tralia “dug their own grave” in the quar­ter-fi­nal by “run­ning ev­ery­thing from their own half ”, and Hart­ley high­lighted New Zealand’s at­tack-minded kick­ing game – and how Eng­land deal with it – as a piv­otal bat­tle­ground.

Hart­ley’s last match was Northamp­ton Saints’ 32-6 win over Worces­ter War­riors on Dec 21 last year and he ad­mit­ted to be­ing bored of the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process.

Be­ing re­duced to a spec­ta­tor is hard af­ter his con­tri­bu­tion to the four years of work that will be un­der­pin­ning Eng­land’s ef­fort to top­ple New Zealand.

“I can’t lie about that, it’s dif­fi­cult,” Hart­ley said. “But I’m also in a place where I’ve had to ac­cept where I am and try to en­joy watch­ing rugby for what it is.

“Equally, you un­der­stand what the play­ers are go­ing through in those mo­ments, what is on the line in the build-up. I’ve never played in a semi-fi­nal of a World Cup. I can imag­ine that the ex­cite­ment, pres­sure, ex­pec­ta­tion – how­ever you want to think about it – is slowly build­ing up.

“Ev­ery­thing that we’ve worked for, ev­ery­thing that every­one has con­trib­uted over the last four years, has built up to this week.”

Big mo­ment: Eng­land cel­e­brate Dy­lan Hart­ley’s try against the All Blacks last year

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