England captain Dylan Hartley shirks off "world-beaters" label

England enter the Six Nations as defending champions, but the England captain isn't buying into the hype

England captain Dylan Hartley has shrugged off any talk that England are the form team heading into the Six Nations Championship next month.

The controversial England hooker was retained as Eddie Jones' on-field lieutenant on Wednesday and Hartley says that getting caught up in the talk will only serve to disrupt the team.

"All that stuff makes you weak so it's about trying to shut out that noise," he said. "I know from the group we have and the way we drive training that, striving to improve and always wanting to get better, you can park those little comments. We focus on what we believe in and we'll be OK.

"That sort of stuff just fluffs your ego and makes you vulnerable. We keep it pretty real. Everyday in training he drives us pretty hard and the players drive themselves pretty hard.

"We want to improve and as long as we've got that mindset and shut out the compliments and expectations, we will get better."

England captain Dylan Hartley at the launch of the 2017 RBS Six Nations Championship at The Hurlingham Club in London today. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

England are on course to surpass the achievement of the 2003 side by winning 15 consecutive test matches, after they equalled the feat against Australia last November.

On his role as captaincy he said: "The captaincy was never mine in the first place. Coming into this camp, I had clear directives from Eddie what I had to achieve to be involved in the Portugal camp. He's no joking, he announced the captaincy earlier, he hadn't said before he wanted me to do it... The fact that I'm here, I have two days in Portugal to put my best foot forward."