Dylan Hartley says rivalry with Norfolk rugby star Tom Youngs is good for England
- Credit: PA
Dylan Hartley may have consolidated himself as England's first-choice hooker but the Northampton captain says his rivalry with Norfolk's Tom Youngs is a good thing for Stuart Lancaster's squad.
The pair's rivalry has been clear for all to see, bubbling over in May's Aviva Premiership final when Hartley was sent off for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes - language Hartley said was aimed at Leicester's Youngs.
An 11-week ban followed for Hartley, allowing Youngs to play a bigger part in the triumphant British and Irish Lions Tour of Australia during the summer.
Former Holt and North Walsham player Youngs started the emphatic 38-21 defeat of New Zealand at Twickenham during last year's Autumn Internationals, as well as the 20-13 win against Australia at the start of this month.
But a man-of-the-match performance from 27-year-old Hartley during the 31-12 win against Argentina saw him retain the number two shirt for England's 22-30 loss against the All Blacks at Twickenham.
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Youngs replaced Hartley in the 51st minute of the glamour clash after the latter was left hurt following a huge tackle on Richie McCaw - which later turned out to have bruised one of his lungs.
But Hartley says the rivalry is good for both players.
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'I don't want to talk about who does what well and who doesn't as all that matters is that there are two players who are striving to be the best and helping the other raise their game too,' Hartley told The Rugby Paper.
'That's what the best teams have, two or three quality players for every position and if we can get that then it can only bode well for the World Cup in two years time.
'A year ago the shoe was on the other foot, Tom played all the games while I was injured and in the Six Nations he played all the games.
'But it's good, healthy competition and it brings the best out of people. I had it when I was coming into England and it's great to have someone pushing you the whole time.'