England captain Hartley signs new Northampton contract

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Dylan Hartley has signed a new contract with Northampton Saints and will take over as captain for a second time, replacing Tom Wood.

England skipper Hartley has enjoyed a 12-year spell with Northampton, making 229 appearances, and wore the captain's armband from 2009 to 2015 - during which time the Saints won the Premiership, European Challenge Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup while also reaching the final of the then Heineken Cup in 2011.

His skills as a captain have been evident on the international scene, where Hartley has led England to back-to-back Six Nations titles.

Hartley's previous deal had been due to expire at the end of next season and he told the club's official website: "It was an easy decision to commit my long-term playing future to Northampton Saints.

"After completing my 11th year at Franklin's Gardens last season I was delighted when the club suggested extending my time here. I'm very proud to be offered an opportunity to continue playing and being part of such a great club.

"When [director of rugby] Jim [Mallinder] approached me about taking on the captaincy I was surprised. For me the timing is right and it is certainly a challenge I want to take on.

"I'm very passionate about the Saints and would love to see us competing for trophies. We have some valuable experience within the squad that will be driving the team forward this year.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Woody for the way he led the team last season. He plays with his heart on his sleeve and body on the line and he did a fine job in what was a frustrating season for us. His support to me will be invaluable, as will his presence on the field.

"I'd also like to thank the Saints supporters for the way that they have been behind both me personally and the team as a whole throughout my time here.

"We all appreciate the time and effort they put in to following us home and away, and hopefully we will all enjoy success together this season."