Friday 9 December 2016

James Haskell has no issue with Dylan Hartley becoming England skipper despite eye gouge

Published 25/01/2016 | 09:24

James Haskell (left) and Dylan Hartley on England duty during last year's Six Nations
James Haskell (left) and Dylan Hartley on England duty during last year's Six Nations

James Haskell would have no problems if Dylan Hartley was, as anticipated, named new England captain later today - despite being on the receiving end of an eye gouging by the Northampton hooker nine years ago.

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Hartley's indiscretions in recent years have garnered him an unwanted reputation, with the 29-year-old's record comprising of over a year's worth of suspensions.

Among his offences is gouging the eyes of Wasps forwards Haskell and Johnny O'Connor in 2007, an act that resulted in a 26-week ban, while he was omitted from England's World Cup squad last year for headbutting Saracens' Jamie George.

Nevertheless, Haskell would welcome the appointment of the combative 29-year-old as Chris Robshaw's successor for the forthcoming RBS 6 Nations campaign.

"If you are the best guy for the job you lead by example and you play. Your track record doesn't matter," Wasps captain Haskell said.

"There might be a few people with stiff collars who will get upset, but that's the nature of the game. You live and die by the sword.

"Dylan is a good man and a good player. You know he will give 100 per cent and I could not care less what he has done before."

Jones will speak to his senior players at the squad's Surrey training base on Monday before officially announcing who will be at the helm for England's rebuilding phase following a disastrous World Cup.

"I have played with Dylan since England Under-19s and gone all the way through with him. He is a good man and abrasive, which is what you want," Haskell said.

"He is always committed to what he does and he would be a good captain. He captained Saints for a long time and commands respect from the boys.

"He expects everyone to toe the party line. He'll lead by example and his passion for the shirt is renowned.

"I love Dylan and he is a good friend of mine. You pick the players to do a job. I am not particularly conformist myself. I do not worry too much about people's opinions.

"Whoever is made captain, the rest of the team will have to get behind him and that is what we will do."

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