Jones confident in Hartley's ability to lead England


Eddie Jones believes Dylan Hartley is the right man to lead England despite his chequered disciplinary history, claiming the team needed a new direction.

Hartley was confirmed as captain on Monday, taking over from Chris Robshaw, who led England at the Rugby World Cup but received widespread criticism following their pool-stage exit.

Northampton Saints hooker Hartley was omitted from the training squad for the World Cup after receiving a four-week ban for headbutting Saracens' Jamie George in last year's Premiership semi-final.

That sanction is the most recent in a long list of suspensions handed down to Hartley, who was banned for 26 weeks in 2007 for eye-gouging and 11 weeks in 2013 after being sent off for abusing a match official, costing him his place in that year's British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.

But speaking in a media conference following the announcement of Hartley as captain, Jones said: "The biggest risk is always not to take a risk.

"We need to get back to what the rest of the world fears about England and that's our forward play.

"Dylan has been successful as a player, he's been a successful captain at Northampton, guided one of the most famous clubs in England to a Premiership. The players will follow him.

"It's not about what Chris Robshaw didn't do. Chris has done a fantastic job for England but we've just decided to take a new direction. He's [Robshaw] still an important part of the team."

Hartley added: "It's easy to say I might not have had an international future. I've always said I'd get back in an England shirt. I always had faith I'd be back here.

"I feel like I'm prepared to do the job. Knowing the players we've got on this team, I'm confident in those around me."