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Hartley: Premiership celebrations over with All Blacks looming

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

It was a manic weekend for Hartley, who first lifted the Aviva Premiership trophy at Twickenham before leading his side on an open top bus tour in front of 30,000 Northamptonians. Within hours he was then boarding a plane for the long flight across 12 time zones.

“I’ve drawn a line under the Premiership season because we’ve got a different challenge altogether now,” he told the RFU Podcast. “I’m over the jetlag and this week was good to go in on Monday and be part of a squad preparing for a Test week.”

Of the eight Saints who headed to New Zealand, only Lee Dickson was involved last weekend as the travellers were given time to acclimatise and recover. England would push the hosts close only to be denied by Conrad Smith’s late try, but Hartley believes this weekend’s second Test in Dunedin will be another level up.

 “We fronted up and really challenged the All Blacks, especially at set-piece time which was good. Defensively we were very sound and made a lot of line breaks in attack. It’s about being more clinical and coming away with points.

“We pushed ourselves really hard the other night and came up short but there are still two massive opportunities to come in terms of Test matches.

 “This week will be a completely different challenge. Both sides have their first game under their belts and will have shaken off some of the rust so you can expect things to step up another notch on Saturday.”