Dylan Hartley confirmed as England captain
Tom Hamilton
January 25, 2016
Taylor: Hartley not the best hooker in England

Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley will captain England in their Six Nations opener against Scotland on Feb. 6.

Hartley was told on Sunday by Eddie Jones in a decision that sees him replace Chris Robshaw as skipper.

The hooker has won 66 caps for England but that total could have been far higher but for his poor disciplinary record. He has spent a total of 54 weeks suspended in his career with the bans seeing him miss the 2007 and 2015 Rugby World Cups and the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour.

"I know it will be a very proud moment for him, his club, his family and friends when he leads England out at Murrayfield," 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.

"English rugby is indebted to Northampton to have produced such a fine player. Dylan is an honest, hardworking bloke and I admire his aggressive and uncompromising approach to playing rugby.

"Together with Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard, we think he has all the qualities needed to lead this group of players. We look forward to working very closely with him to build a successful England team."

© (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Hartley added: "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.

"It is essential for the success of this team that we quickly develop and establish a strong leadership group. There are a number of guys in this squad who will all have important leadership roles to play so we can take this team forward.

"There is a lot of young talent and potential which is great to see. Our focus over the next two weeks is to work hard and prepare for the Scotland game. Playing at Murrayfield will be a huge challenge and one we are all looking forward to."

Jones sees Hartley as the ideal player to get some bite back into England's pack after they struggled in the previous World Cup.

"Dylan can lead the side with the sort of attitude we want. We want a team with an uncompromising feel about it. The biggest risk was to not take a risk," Jones said. "We need to change English rugby and get back to what the rest of the world fears about English rugby and that's their forward play.

"I was telling a few of the players that when I was coaching Australia against England, we felt if we could get parity in the scrum and maul, we knew we could win the game. We need to get back to that English style of play that's based on a strong scrum, driving maul and uncompromising cleanout.

"Dylan has been successful as a player. He has 66 caps and has been a successful captain for Northampton. He's experienced, he plays like that and he will lead like that, so the players will follow him."

Robshaw had skippered England throughout Stuart Lancaster's four-year reign and Jones admitted the change in captaincy was unkind to him.

"Let's get one thing right, it's not about what Chris Robshaw didn't do," Jones said. "I had a meeting with the team and I said Chris has done a fantastic job for England over the last four years, but we've decided to take a new direction.

"It's been a difficult time for Chris, but he's still an important part of the team and I know he will support Dylan."

Hartley insists that the "past is the past" in relation to his lengthy list of previous misdemeanours.

"Me and Eddie had a chat a few weeks ago. Nothing was confirmed. He just told me to get playing rugby, play well and get in the team," Hartley said. "Last night I got a call to come down for a meeting. I was a bit nervous. He asked me if I wanted to do the job, put his hand out.

"I think I might have snapped his hand off and didn't let go. I didn't really sleep last night because I was so excited and proud. I always said I'd get back in an England shirt and here I am. I want to lead by playing well. The past is the past. I'm really excited about this tournament and getting stuck in."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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