The continued inclusion of Dylan Hartley in the England starting XV, let alone his choice as Captain, was becoming controversial, and is still stirring debate up and down the country ahead of the resumption of the upcoming Autumn Internationals. Following defeat by Scotland, France and Ireland, and a series defeat to South Africa can Eddie Jones really continue to put his faith in a player who had clearly lost form for club and country and is regularly replaced early in games?
Even former England Internationals are beginning to question his wisdom with ex Captain Lawrence Dallaglio commenting –
“Ideally, the captain should be one of the team’s strongest players but Hartley is not. He is often one of the first players to be substituted and, again, that is far from ideal. My feeling is that if the captain is not the best English player in his position you are starting from a bad place, and I don’t see Hartley as being better than Jamie George. I can see why the coach might not want to change his captain but in my view, there is greater risk in not making the change.”
It is a point that supporters of Hartley will find difficult to argue with. Surely nobody can counter the fact that, at the moment, Hartley is not the best player in his position. Although he looks rested and is coming back to form and fitness for his club, some would even say that he is, at best, 3rd in the pecking order! Perhaps his recent wedding to partner Joanne Tromans will tame his infamous temper and keep him focused on regaining not only his International place but also the Captaincy.
We are pretty sure that this would have been debated behind closed doors at the England training base in deepest Surrey, but Eddie Jones seems to be a pretty determined and single minded kind of guy so we can’t see him replacing Dylan as Captain any time soon…..but watch this space!