Sir Clive Woodward stated his dismay at talk surrounding the possibility of Eddie Jones replacing Dylan Hartley as captain for England’s upcoming Six Nations clash with Italy.
“I’ve been a little alarmed at talk of England making a whole raft of changes for the Italy game and even switching captaincy mid tournament and replacing Dylan Hartley with Owen Farrell,” Woodward wrote in the Mail on Sunday.
“Stop right there. England are on a massive roll and the momentum is with them but in the cold light of day so far in the 2017 Six Nations they have won two games they could easily have lost. They have scraped through both by the skin of their teeth. There’s a stack of work to do.”
Woodward believes England should go out and “batter” the Italians in front of a packed Twickenham and in doing so make a statement of intent. The former World Cup winning coach believes they can’t take their foot off the “accelerator” by making wholesale changes, with games against Scotland and Ireland to come.
England have gone on a 16 consecutive game winning streak, 15 games under Jones in which Hartley has played a role and Woodward believes if the system is working, why change it.
“As for Hartley, his record for England under Eddie Jones as the starting captain is an astonishing 15 out of 15 in the last 14 months or so. He is the England captain for the Six Nations and he should continue to start and lead the team.
“To these eyes what he needs is more rugby not less. He’s not playing particularly badly but he is still clearly working up to full match fitness. What he needs now is a full 80-minute work out against Italy. Why try to fix what ain’t broken?”
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Woodward alarmed by talk of replacing Hartley
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