Newly appointed England head coach Eddie Jones has chosen Northampton Saints captain Dylan Hartley to lead the English line in the Six Nations. The question is, is he the right man for the job?
After a miserable World Cup in which the hosts not only lost to Wales and Australia respectively, but failed to reach the quarter-finals -becoming the first host nation not to reach the knockouts/quarter-final stage, English rugby has been perceived to be on the decline.
Yet, this perception has been thwarted by the appointment of Jones and his controversial selection of the Northampton hooker as captain for the upcoming Six Nations. Here, we will look back at Hartley's shameful past in an attempt to understand whether in fact he is indeed the correct man for the job.
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The New Zealand-born and highly commended Northampton Saints hooker made his club debut in 2005 and, in 280 games he has captained them to the European Final, Premiership title as well as amassing 66 caps for England since 2008.
From caps alone, Hartley is England's most capped player meaning that from this basis he is the ideal choice. However, it his on-field antics that lead to many fans criticising this appointment.
Since 2007, Hartley has had six suspensions collaborating a total of 54 weeks worth of bans.
• April 2007: 26 weeks ban for gouging Wasps forwards James Haskell and Johnny O'Connor
• March 2012: 8 weeks ban for biting Ireland's Stephen Ferris
• December 2012: 2 weeks ban for striking Ulster's Rory Best
• May 2013: 11 weeks ban for verbal abuse of a match official
• December 2014: 3 weeks ban for elbowing Leicester's Matt Smith
• May 2015: 4 weeks ban for headbutting Saracens hooker Jamie George
The severity of his suspensions are significant as not only did they cost him a place on the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia but ultimately a spot in England's World Cup squad.
Should he even be in the team?
Despite the scepticism surrounding Hartley's appointment, there has been an equal debate discussing whether he should even be the first-choice hooker for England's Six Nations campaign.
Not only has he recently been injured, but he has struggled for consistency. Whereas someone like Jamie George is a fierce competitor for the starting place and has more energy and enthusiasm.
Although he is an excellent captain who uses his voice well, he is too much of a risk.
Yet, what can be said is that the upcoming Six Nations will test Hartley to see whether he has matured, learned and make up for his past mistakes.
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