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Dylan Hartley confident England can topple Australia

Dylan Hartley insists England begin their quest for an historic series victory in Australia armed with the conviction they can topple the World Cup finalists.

The Grand Slam champions play Tests in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney against a Wallabies team that has been revived under the guidance of Michael Cheika, a friend and former club team-mate of Red Rose boss Eddie Jones.

Hartley, however, insists England enter the opener at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday unafraid to state their aim of humbling the favourites.

"Why can't we win the series? What's the point in going if we don't want to win it?" the captain said.

"We've never won so it's a huge opportunity for us. I don't think there's any harm in saying we want to win the series, because what's the point in touring otherwise.

"This isn't just a make up the numbers game at the end of the season, we want to go down and challenge them."

England, missing their Aviva Premiership finalists from Saracens and Exeter, warmed up for their June tour with a 27-13 victory over Wales at Twickenham in which they outscored their old rivals 5-1 on the try-count.

"It was good to be back and good to be continuing our run. The first 20 minutes gave us a bit of a shock," Hartley said.

"It was quite fast paced. You like to control the opening exchanges, but when you're 10-0 down you have to reassess a few things.

"We finished the game on a high note with a set piece focus. The young guys coming off the bench, earning first caps, really closed the game out. They did a good job.

"The strength in depth we have is brilliant and we showed that against a star-studded Welsh team. There was a perception that we had a weakened team, but I was confident we could win.

"It was the first of four games for us and we're keen to go and make some history in Australia. It's an opportunity.

"Beating Wales keeps us in fourth place in the rankings, with Australia at number two. We want to be in the top one or two in the world.

"History tells us we've never won a series out in Australia so that's a big carrot for us."

Meanwhile, Jones has refused to allow England's preparations to be disrupted by the ferocious storm that has swept across the Gold Coast.

Gale force winds clocking 60mph and rainfall totalling over 10 inches, described as a "severe weather event" by meteorologists, have seen emergency services placed on standby in anticipation of flash flooding.

The impact has even been felt at the squad's hotel in Surfers Paradise after the first rainfall in months resulted in water leaking through the lobby roof into large containers.

England arrived in Queensland on Thursday and were able to complete their first training session 24 hours later - just moments before the deluge began - but the following day they trained indoors at a local school.

With the series starting next Saturday, Jones insists the build-up has not been unsettled by the storm.

"It's been great for our recovery work, so we're quite happy with it. We can't control the weather, so we just put up with it," Jones said.

"We were always coming here for the first week to look to recover and get everyone nice and fresh and mentally right, so we've been able to do that. It's not a real problem for us.

"We had a swim on the first day and nearly lost a couple out on the rift! Hopefully we'll get back in the water on Sunday.

"We're recovering from the long trip and some players played in the Premiership final, so we always looked at this week as a recovery week and that's gone to plan."


From Belfast Telegraph