Hartley looks to respond to Gatland remarks
England hooker Dylan Hartley has laughed off remarks made by Wales head coach Warren Gatland and hopes to show his worth on the pitch against Wales in their Six Nations clash on Friday.
Gatland described Hartley as someone who “talked too much” and questioned his ability to play at the highest level, claiming he “fell apart” against Leicester in the Aviva Premiership.
The former Wasps coach’s remarks prompted a response England coach Martin Johnson, who believed his comments were attempts to cover up his side’s recent poor form.
Now Hartley admits he was surprised to be singled out for criticism and hopes to prove Gatland wrong when he comes up against Wales tomorrow in their Six Nations opener at the Millennium Stadium. He said: “It was a bit out of left field but I suppose you just have to deal with it. These things happen”
He also believes that the comments, made over a week before the game, have focused him ahead of the match.
If anything it’s given me ten days to really prepare myself and ten days to really motivate myself,” Hartley said. “The motivation is there already, it’s a big enough game and I want to do well in an England shirt.
“It’s given me plenty of warning of what’s to come and time to prepare.”
Gatland was incensed by the role Hartley played in the suspension of Richie Rees which sees him miss the entire tournament, and his part in the sin-binning of Welsh forward Gareth Williams in the Heineken Cup match between Northampton and Cardiff.
New Zealand-born Hartley has a chequered disciplinary past and served a six month suspension for gouging England team-mate James Haskell in 2007.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in world rugby news Italy head coach Nick Mallet has selected Treviso’s Kris Burton at fly-half for their Six Nations opener against Ireland, while captain Sergio Parisse has recovered from a finger injury in time to take his place in the starting line-up.