With two rounds of the 2015 Six Nations under the belt, England and Ireland go head-to-head at the Aviva Stadium, with sole place at the top of the table the prize.
With England then facing Scotland and France at Twickenham in Rounds 4 and 5, Sunday would put Stuart Lancaster’s men in line for the Championship title. But Hartley says that nothing less than a 100 percent performance will do against an Ireland team that is unbeaten in both their Autumn and Six Nations campaigns so far this season.
“Preparations are going well but there’s no hiding that this is a huge game for us and it’s a big test away from home,” he told the RFU podcast. “We’ve been to Cardiff and exorcised a few demons down there but this is a huge challenge for us but it’s one we’re looking forward to and to keep our tournament hopes alive. We’ve got to win this weekend.
“The plan is to try and replicate what we did and how we won in Cardiff. We’ll also try and replicate how the week was and the build-up and the mind set of going away from home, so nothing has been different this week, the challenge is the same. It’s a huge game away from home so hopefully we’ll prepare in the same way and hopefully on the day we’ll turn up like we did in Wales.
“It’s always been a historically tough game against the Irish, we’ve lost some and we’ve won some. We might have won the last few games but the challenge away from home in Dublin will be big enough. They’re a confident side that has been together for a while now and of course they're the current champions as well and that’s where we want to be, that adds to the test as well.”
Hartley is joined by clubmate Luther Burrell in a starting line-up that shows two changes from that which beat Italy last time out.
Mike Brown is ruled out with concussion, meaning Alex Goode comes in at full back, with Jack Nowell replacing Jonny May on the wing. Kieran Brookes is also absent through injury, so Bath’s Henry Thomas comes onto the bench.
Sunday’s game kicks off at 3pm, with live coverage on BBC1.
ENGLAND TEAM TO PLAY IRELAND
Sunday, March 1st, 2015
Kick off 3:00pm
15 Alex GOODE (Saracens)
14 Anthony WATSON (Bath)
13 Jonathan JOSEPH (Bath)
12 Luther BURRELL (Northampton Saints)
11 Jack NOWELL (Exeter Chiefs)
10 George FORD (Bath)
9 Ben YOUNGS (Leicester Tigers)
1 Joe MARLER (Harlequins)
2 Dylan HARTLEY (Northampton Saints)
3 Dan COLE (Leicester Tigers)
4 Dave ATTWOOD (Bath)
5 George KRUIS (Saracens)
6 James HASKELL (Wasps)
7 Chris ROBSHAW (Harlequins)(capt)
8 Billy VUNIPOLA (Saracens)
16 Tom YOUNGS (Leicester Tigers)
17 Mako VUNIPOLA (Saracens)
18 Henry THOMAS (Bath)
19 Nick EASTER (Harlequins)
20 Tom CROFT (Leicester Tigers)
21 Richard WIGGLESWORTH (Saracens)
22 Danny CIPRIANI (Sale Sharks)
23 Billy TWELVETREES (Gloucester)