March 12, 2018 / 5:42 PM / 8 days ago

Hartley on course to return for England against Ireland

(Reuters) - England captain Dylan Hartley is expected to be fit to face Ireland in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Saturday but winger Elliot Daly a doubt due to a foot injury, coach Eddie Jones said on Monday.

Rugby Union - England Training - St Edward's School, Oxford, Britain - February 28, 2018 England's Dylan Hartley during training Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Hartley sat out England’s game against France on Saturday due to a tight calf as Jones’s men slumped to a limp 22-16 defeat that resulted in Ireland being crowned Six Nations champions with a game to spare.

British and Irish Lions hooker Jamie George failed to fire against the French after being handed a rare start, leaving Jones eager to bring Hartley back as he looks salvage pride by derailing Ireland’s hopes of winning a third grand slam.

“Dylan ran this morning but we need to get a medical report on him. I expect him to be available but we will just have to wait and see. If he’s fit then he’ll be playing,” Jones told reporters.

Daly will undergo a scan on his left foot, which is in a protective boot after he made his first appearance of the competition in Paris.

“The boot is just a precaution,” Jones said of Daly.

Beating Ireland would ease the pressure on Jones and give England a measure of revenge after the Irish prevented them from securing the grand slam on the final day of last year’s championship.

Successive defeats by Scotland and France have resulted in criticism of Jones, but the 58-year-old believes his squad has what it takes to arrest their slump.

“I think that every good team goes through this period, it’s actually an essential part of developing a great team,” the Australian said.

“The learnings we’ll get from this, albeit very painful, are absolutely crucial going forward because it is about how we respond.

“It’s not as if we can’t play rugby, we know we’ve got good players as they’ve played for the Lions and won games for England. When you get a loss it tests your mental resolve and that’s the test we’ve got to face.”

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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