Dylan fear retiring a failure
Dylan Hartley fears retiring a failure... the England captain is determined not to let Grand Slam opportunity slip away
Dylan Hartley is determined not to let the Grand Slam opportunity slip away on Saturday at Twickenham when both teams will be galvanised by the usual potent mix of national pride and the prospect of prizes within their reach.
Both have the championship title in their sights and for Hartley’s England, the elusive Grand Slam is still on the table.
There is a sense of rising concern among senior English players that their Test careers may end without significant reward and captain Hartley voiced that sentiment on Thursday, claiming that the 2011 title success didn’t register as a momentous achievement and since then there have been four runners-up finishes in the Six Nations.
‘We’ve got a nucleus of players who have been there and have experience,’ he said.
‘That nucleus has been together for eight years; me, Danny Care, James Haskell. What have we won? One Six Nations. The scariest thing for me is looking back on my England career having not won something substantial.
‘All of the older guys are scared that we’ll walk away without winning something, so all the preparation and detail is going into winning. We’re running out of time. Well James Haskell is, and me apparently!’
England were on course for a Slam five years ago only to fall at the final hurdle in Dublin — losing 24-8 to Ireland.
That result led to the surreal sight of Martin Johnson’s team being presented with the tournament trophy in a cramped room next to the lobby of a hotel. It was not the vision of a glorious career highlight.
‘At the time it was an anti-climax because we got thrashed by Ireland, then we got the trophy,’ said Hartley. ‘It was strange. You think it (winning the title) is then going to happen again and again and you sit here five years later and it hasn’t.
‘It’s scary to think, when you have been in and out of the shirt like myself, what will you look back on? At the time when we won, I don’t feel like I enjoyed it. Was I too young? Immature? Or was it because of the loss? So I want to make sure we do something and enjoy it.
Asked when this profound realisation had occurred to him, Hartley added: ‘It was at the start of this camp, after my time out. I wanted to come back in and leave with something substantial because you don’t know when it’s going to end.
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