Hartley to retain England captaincy for Six Nations


Dylan Hartley appears set to captain England at the Six Nations after he accompanied coach Eddie Jones to the tournament's launch on Wednesday.

Speculation about Hartley's future as skipper has been rife following his sending off for Northampton Saints against Leinster in the European Champions Cup last month.

The hooker was suspended for six weeks following the altercation with Sean O'Brien, throwing his international responsibilities into question.

However, Jones appears to have kept faith with the 30-year-old after his appearance at the coaches and captains event in London.

Asked how quickly he can settle back into things after his ban, Hartley said: "I'm here on behalf of the team. The team is preparing well.

"The challenge is we've got to use this week as best as we can to get the preparation right for a huge first game."

England are expected to be without Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola and Chris Robshaw for the entire Six Nations, but Hartley feels they can cope with the injuries.

"Last year there was a lot of column inches about [injuries to] Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson, we didn't have these guys, but with that opportunity comes for others," he said.

"You see people like Jonny May coming back into the team, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes taking those opportunities and it's very much the same now.

"We're in a good place, we've got a good squad and competition brings the best out of the team I think."

England commence their Six Nations title defence against France at Twickenham on February 4.