Jim Mallinder: Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes should start against Italy
Northampton boss Jim Mallinder says Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes should be in England's starting line-up.
Last Updated: 03/03/13 9:26pm
The pair were released by England coach Stuart Lancaster for club duty this weekend - normally a sign that they will not start in the next international.
But they were both immense in Saints' 40-14 hammering of London Irish and Mallinder thinks both of them should be in the starting XV against Italy.
Mallinder said: "I thought our two returning England lads were particularly impressive. Hartley and Lawes put their bodies on the line and were very, very good.
"Courtney has come back with a real determined attitude. He was frustrated from his performance for England against France, he is an honest guy, he doesn't hide away. But his work rate and physicality was immense today.
"I hope Stuart watches the game because then it will give him a few more selection headaches.
"I am only guessing, but probably in the back of his mind those two would be on the bench for the Italy game. But with their performance today the pair of them really put their hands up for selection.
"We are a good side and with everybody fit we are quite hard to beat. It is quite an unusual position for us, in the past few years we have been fighting on two or three fronts."
London Irish were just 14-9 down at half-time and coach Brian Smith admitted his side were blown away in the second half.
"They ran riot in the second half," said Smith. "We had a couple of scoring chances in the first half and we really needed to take them, we had to score at least twice from our trips to their 22 in the first half and we didn't do that.
"The second half is one we would rather forget. We messed up a simple exit just before half-time and gave them field position to score when we could have gone in leading.
"We turned the ball over 23 times today and we don't turn the ball over 23 times in a season.
"They had more than a points win up front and we didn't play all that well behind it either. When those two planets align like that it can get a bit messy on the scoreboard.
"You are always smarting after a defeat and after a defeat like that especially so."