Hartley set to return as England captain
Dylan Hartley, who missed the World Cup for disciplinary reasons, is set to make a surprise return to the England side as captain for the Six Nations campaign.
New Zealand-born Hartley, who has 66 caps, insisted in June that he had no intention of retiring from international rugby, despite receiving his fifth suspension in three years – he has been sidelined for a total of 54 weeks in his career.
And it appears that he could replace Chris Robshaw as captain for the opening game against Scotland on February 6.
The Northampton hooker was left out of the World Cup after being sent off – and subsequently banned from England’s opening game against Fiji – for butting Saracens’ Jamie George at the end of last season.
But Jones, who officially replaced Stuart Lancaster at the start of the month, has already made it clear that every player will begin with a clean slate, and it appears that disciplinary or off-field issues are unlikely to be held against any player if the new head coach believes he can transform England into a trophy-winning force.
Hartley, who is recovering from a concussion injury that is set to keep him out of Northampton’s game against Racing 92 tomorrow, had been captain of his club for six years before stepping down from the role in September.
He remains one of England’s most experienced current internationals and his combative game is likely to appeal to Jones, who is thought to want to bring more edge to the squad.