Hartley: Cole is England's rock

Updated: 

England captain Dylan Hartley has leapt to the defence of team-mate Dan Cole after Australia coach Michael Cheika was critical of the latter's scrummaging technique.

Ahead of this weekend's Test at Twickenham, the Wallabies coach claimed England's pack were infringing the laws of the game at the set-piece, with Cole the main culprit.

Cheika suggested the 29-year-old Leicester Tigers prop - who was sin-binned against Argentina last weekend - had been breaking the rules "since his career started".

Hartley rejected those claims at a media conference on Thursday, though, describing his front-row colleague as a "rock" in the England pack.

"I am aware what was said [by Cheika]," he said. "Coley is a great scrummager, you don't stumble upon 60-odd caps if you scrum illegally.

"He's a good operator, he's difficult to play against, I know that, [and] to have him alongside you, he's a rock."

And Hartley believes England's forwards will put in their best performance of the year this weekend as they look to complete an unbeaten 12 months under Eddie Jones.

He added: "We always focus on our scrum, first and foremost set piece dominance is what we underpin our side with, that and a strong defence.

"I don't think we have had a complete performance scrummaging wise yet and this weekend is where we want to get it."