(Reuters) - Attitudes have changed and England are no longer ‘too polite’ to their opponents, said captain Dylan Hartley as his side seek a clean sweep of victories in the autumn internationals.
Hartley has been cleared to lead his country against Argentina, Australia and Samoa, after his citing for striking an opponent in Northampton’s 24-7 defeat to Clermont Auvergne was dismissed by an independent disciplinary hearing last month.
England will be looking to continue their winning momentum against the Pumas at Twickenham on Saturday after a 2-0 series win in Argentina in June, which came after their Six Nations grand slam dream was wrecked by Ireland.
That loss ended a run of 18 wins in a row for England, but that is all in the past now according to Hartley, with the goal to embark on another similarly impressive sequence of victories.
”This is sport, we are competitors, we want to win everything,“ Hartley told reporters on Thursday. ”Maybe in the past we have been too polite but this is sport, it’s a challenge, we want to win every game.
”The (winning) run is irrelevant because it’s a clean slate. If we were away from home, I’d want to win every game as well. It’s a mindset shift.
“I think it’s important for us to go and play well as a team. If that means making a statement by winning, first and foremost, we win. We want to be a better team than who Argentina faced in the summer.”
Saturday’s meeting against the Pumas is England’s first match since their 35-25 victory in Sante Fe in June, and Hartley believes Eddie Jones and his players have utilised the time well, while warning that Argentina will be improved also.
”I think we have prepared well,“ Hartley added. ”All our focus has been geared towards it.
”We’ve had Lensbury, Oxford and Portugal (training camps). And when you prepare well, and with your team-mates you know they have prepared well, you can be confident in yourself and those around you, and when you’re confident you can just go play.
“In the summer they (Argentina) play together as a Super Rugby team so they have been together a long time and they are a tight-knit team. They have been playing against good opposition so they are only going to be a better team than what we faced, so we need to be a step up from where we were.”
( This version fixes typo in second para, makes clear Hartley was speaking on Thursday)
Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Christian Radnedge