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Hartley - I can handle it

England hooker Dylan Hartley believes he is ready for the intensity of Sunday's Calcutta Cup showdown with Scotland.

Wales coach Warren Gatland opened the Six Nations by goading Hartley as a choker and a coward in a failed attempt at provoking a reaction. Now, Scotland have singled out the Northampton captain with coach Andy Robinson claiming Hartley "milked penalties" at the scrum and Ross Ford accusing him of sledging.

Hartley's response to Gatland was perfect - he delivered arguably his best performance in the red rose jersey as England won 26-19, and he said ahead of the Scotland clash: "I feel I've made quite a significant step as a Test player, I've removed a question mark."

He added: "To go down to Wales and do what we did there gave me self-confidence. It showed everyone I can do it.

"Every line-out people wanted to see me miss, people wanted to see me crumple. People wanted to see me get carded.

"There weren't too many people saying good things. I read it. I saw it.

"That was as much pressure on a personal level as I'd ever had. It was good to come through it and I feel proud I turned it into a big positive.

"Every team we've played against hates us and want to beat us so passionately. We expect it from every team now.

"I think they'll be very competitive. As a player I get people coming for me a lot of the time so it's not too hard for me to understand it.

"As a team we take it on the chin and we're happy with how things are going."


From Belfast Telegraph