Hartley relishing Harrison debut

England captain Dylan Hartley has described Teimana Harrison's journey to the national team as a "hell of a story" ahead of the Northampton Saints flanker's debut against Wales.

New Zealand-born Harrison was scouted by Hartley when the hooker visited his former high school in Rotorua during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The encounter led to Harrison joining the Saints' senior academy and he has now made 50 appearances for the Premiership outfit.

"I think it's a hell of a story," Hartley told the England Rugby Podcast.

"Four or five years ago I saw Tei play first-15 rugby. His coach asked me to come down and watch him. He said that there was a young lad with an English passport, an English father, who had expressed an interest to play rugby in Northampton and try and play for England one day.

"I could see him playing Premiership rugby but never, never, never did I predict he would be pulling on an England shirt at the age of 23. He's come on leaps and bounds in all walks of life and I'm really proud of him.

"I think everyone at Northampton and in Rotorua probably knew about his raw talent. It's only this year though that the rest of the country has got to see it."

For England and Wales, Sunday's clash at Twickenham serves as a warm-up for their respective Southern Hemisphere tours, with Eddie Jones taking his side to Australia and Warren Gatland's men heading to New Zealand.

Wales were beaten 25-21 in England during the Six Nations, but the merit of this latest meeting between the rivals has come into question.

"Over a year ago I spoke to Stuart Lancaster [then England coach] about a potential game before going on tour," said Wales coach Warren Gatland.

"Both us felt in the past going to the Southern Hemisphere at the end of our season was incredibly tough, particularly as both of us had a range of players finishing the season at different times.

"You were going to the Southern Hemisphere and playing a first Test with some players who hadn't played for four or five weeks. We just felt this was a game to get us up to speed to what we were going to encounter in the Southern Hemisphere.

"It was nothing commercial and it’s not about money. This was a rugby decision based on how do we prepare ourselves the best possible way for a game in the Southern Hemisphere."

Both teams will be without key players, with Manu Tuilagi (hamstring) missing for England and Wales captain Sam Warburton nursing a shoulder injury.

Players involved in Saturday's Premiership final and France-based pair Jonathan Davies and Luke Charteris will also be absent.