Eddie Jones has today confirmed that hooker Dylan Hartley will lead England during their 2016 RBS Six Nations campaign. England open their campaign with a trip to Murrayfield where they face Scotland on Saturday 6th February.
The Northampton star takes the armband from Chris Robshaw, who led England throughout the Stuart Lancaster era.
Jones stated at the start of his reign that he wanted to bring a more aggressive and abrasive style of play back to the English pack. Making Hartley the skipper certainly fits this line of thinking, as the Northampton hooker is renowned for his hard-nosed style of play.
Jones said “As a former captain of Northampton Saints and someone who has a lot of experience playing for England I have every faith he will lead the team tactically and passionately.”
While Hartley spoke of his pride at the announcement: “It is a huge honour to captain England and a very proud day for me and my family.
“I’m really excited about the challenge ahead but in reality leading this squad of players will not fall just to me.
With just over a month to go until Eddie Jones’s first game at Twickenham, Six Nations fever is starting to build. The Australian faces two huge encounters at HQ. On Saturday 27th February, England welcome the defending champions Ireland to Twickenham for a mouth-watering clash.
Their final home game of the tournament sees England face Wales on Saturday 12th March. This is always one of the best games of the season as two rivals meet, with England looking to avenge their World Cup defeat at the hands of Warren Gatland’s men.
Will Hartley’s discipline be an issue in the Six Nations?
It is no secret that Hartley has had his disciplinary issues in the past which have cost him a chance to play for the British Lions in 2013 and caused him to miss the 2015 World Cup. He has received over 50 weeks of bans during his career, but that hasn’t affected Jones’s decision.
It is worth pointing out that the majority of his problems have come whilst playing for his club side, he has just three yellow cards in 66 Test matches.
The move seems to have divided the opinion of many within the game, Martin Johnson expressed his reservations about the decision. While Brian Moore feels the decision is risky, but could bring rewards for England.
Hartley has struggled for form and fitness in 2015/16 and only recently returned to the Northampton side, but produced a solid all-round display against the Scarlets at the weekend. With his starting place assured it looks as though the in-form Jamie George will have to bide his time, but there is no doubt England have two excellent hookers in their match day 23.
Image Credit – bobaliciouslondon (Flickr)