England captain praises their inexperienced squad, including Cumbrian Mark Wilson, after tour win
Captain Dylan Hartley has praised England's inexperienced squad, including Cumbrian Mark Wilson, after their 2-0 series victory on their tour of Argentina.
For the two-test series in South America, England were denied the services of up to 30 players through injury and British and Irish Lions calls.
Eddie Jones handed flanker Wilson, who was born in Kendal but began his rugby career in Penrith, his international debut in England's opening 38-34 win over the Pumas in San Juan.
Cumbria's Newcastle Falcons man Wilson was then dropped to the bench for the second test, although he again featured in a more routine 35-25 success in Santa Fe last Saturday.
And skipper Hartley says he will enjoy his summer holiday all the more for having ended the 2016-17 season by leading his side to the series win.
"That's what we came to do," said Hartley, who played in all 160 minutes on the two-match tour.
"If anything, it exceeded our hopes and expectations because we learned so much about ourselves and the development of the team.
"Overall, to win two games, that was the objective and I think we can be really proud of ourselves. They were not the perfect games but we found ways to win them both."
While experienced players like George Ford, Hartley, Mike Brown and Chris Robshaw demonstrated their continuing value to England, players like Sam Curry, Cumbrian Wilson, Sam Underhill and Piers Francis seized their opportunity to press their claims for a place in head coach Jones' 45-man elite player squad which will be announced in the summer.
"It was an unbelievable effort, to have 20 new players on tour, but the collective effort from all the guys was amazing as well," Hartley said.
"It's been easy to lead this team, the buy-in has been brilliant, I couldn't have asked for a better group.
"I think English rugby is in a safe place with the depth that we have got. I would like to think Eddie is pretty chuffed as well.
"We are all very proud of each other. It was a big achievement, against an experienced Argentinian side in the rural parts, in hostile atmospheres.
"Being on the road has been difficult but we have found out a lot about each other."