Martin Johnson backs Dylan Hartley for England’s World Cup squad

Dylan Hartley should be a guaranteed pick for England’s World Cup squad despite a lack of game-time, according to former skipper Martin Johnson.

The former England skipper has been out of action with a knee injury since December and, despite being back in training and in contention to play, he missed the chance to return to action for Northampton Saints in their Premiership semi-final defeat to Exeter Chiefs last month.

“It’s a difficult one with Dylan because you never know with these injuries, but I’m really hoping we will see him at the World Cup in the autumn,” said Land Rover ambassador Johnson, who was speaking at this season’s Premiership Final where he met hundreds of youngsters from the national grassroots initiative, the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.

“He’s a vital cog in England’s line-up as a very experienced player. If he gets to Japan, it will be his third World Cup and he will desperately want to get there.

“England will be sure to want him because you have to take three hookers.

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“I think rugby-wise he would be fine, because he has played so many games in his career. When you’re as experienced as he is, you can take a little while out and come back in and be immediately okay.

“There’s plenty of players who can turn it on now and then, when it’s all going their way, and everyone looks good, but you want the players who are going to perform when you’re 15-10 points down with ten minutes to go. Who do you believe in then? Who do you trust then, and I think Dylan Hartley is one of those?”

Martin Johnson is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover shares and understands the values of rugby. Follow @LandRoverRugby

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