England's scrum is 'clean', captain insists

Dylan Hartley (Getty Images)
Dylan Hartley (Getty Images)

London - England captain Dylan Hartley has stressed that his side's scrum is "clean" and defended his under fire team-mate Dan Cole.

Cole has been accused of scrummaging illegally in the past by Australia and the message has been the same in the run-up to Saturday's Test at Twickenham.

"That same prop’s been infringing the law since his career started probably, if not all of this year," were the words of Australia boss Michael Cheika earlier this week.

Hartley countered Cheika's claim by saying that reports from the officials after matches had suggested that England's scrum had been legal throughout the year.

"You don't stumble across 60-odd caps scrummaging illegally," Hartley told BBC Sport.

"The directives we get back from the refs always say that England have a good, clean scrummage."

Hartley knows Cole well both as a team-mate and as an opponent from the pair's time on opposite sides playing for Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers respectively.

The England captain described Cole as "a rock" and tough to play against.

"I play against Cole a couple of times a year and it's always very difficult against him. He's a rock, like every tighthead should be," he added.

"There's plenty for us to work on and we're looking for that complete scrummaging performance this weekend because this team is underpinned by a dominant set-piece and that's what we want to provide."

Teams:

Australia

15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 David Pocock, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 James Slipper, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Henry Speight

England

15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Mako Vunipola

Substitutes: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Henry Slade

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