England's six front row forwards all worthy of Lions call, claims Neal Hatley
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 17/03/17 12:42pm
England scrum coach Neal Hatley insists all six of their front-row forwards deserve British and Irish Lions recognition.
England travel to Dublin on Saturday aiming to become the first side in the Six Nations era to claim back-to-back Grand Slams, and the first in the championship since 1992.
With the Six Nations title secured, Eddie Jones' England will also look to overtake the All Blacks' 18-game unbeaten tier one record, having equalled it with their 61-21 victory over Scotland at Twickenham.
Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole will form England's starting front row at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, while Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler make up the bench.
"All the guys have put their hands up, Mako [Vunipola], Joe [Marler], Jamie [George], Dylan [Hartley]....there isn't a single player we've used in the front row who hasn't put his hand up and pushed a really strong claim for [Lions] selection," said Hatley.
"They're a very good six, particularly at loosehead with the two players we have there in Joe and Mako.
"We have one of the best tightheads in the world in Dan Cole and one of the best upcoming tightheads in Kyle Sinckler.
"From a prop point of view we've got three really experienced, top quality players and one kid who is going to get there very quickly.
"Dylan [Hartley] will become the fourth highest capped England international and you don't get there if you're not a quality player. We've got six very good front row forwards."
Marler and Cole will come up against Jack McGrath and Tadgh Furlong at loosehead and tighthead respectively on Saturday, while it will be a battle of the captains from hooker as Hartley and Rory Best face-off.
Ireland missed the chance to make the clash with England a title decider with defeat in Wales last Friday and will be looking for a reaction in front of their home fans, though Hatley only has eyes on a "special" day.
"For us, back-to-back Grand Slams would be something special," he added.
"We've prepared exceptionally well and it's a good measure of how we are continuing to grow as a team to go somewhere like Dublin, which will be quite hostile and one hell of a day out.
"We put ourselves in these positions to win big games."