Tuesday 23 January 2018

'He let himself down and his country down': England boss Jones breaks silence on Hartley ban

England's Dylan Hartley. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
England's Dylan Hartley. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Mick Cleary

Eddie Jones has told Dylan Hartley that he has "let down himself, let down his club and let down his country", and stated that there is no guarantee that he will be captain for the 2017 Six Nations.

The England head coach has left Hartley in no doubt about how he feels over the Northampton hooker's red card against Leinster and has warned him about his future conduct. Jones was at the European Champions Cup game at Franklin's Gardens when Hartley was sent off for a reckless tackle only six minutes after coming on as a replacement.

It was the third dismissal of his career but his first transgression on Jones's watch. However, there is no concealing Jones's displeasure.

"Dylan will be more disappointed than anyone about what has happened and he has got to cop the penalty because the World Rugby directive on protecting the head is 100pc right," said Jones. "He has let down himself, he has let down his club and he has let down his country.

"He is eligible for selection for the Six Nations and it comes down to the case for every selection - we pick the best 23 and if he is in the best 23, then he has a chance to be captain. This is not the last chance for him but he understands that he can't behave in the way he did. Up to this point he has had an exemplary record (for us). Discipline is not a black and white situation. Each player is judged on their merits and some players in our squad have already had more than one chance."

Jones has returned to Australia for a family break but will meet up with Hartley (left) and the rest of the squad in a two-day gathering in Brighton on January 2. Hartley is available to play again on January 23 but is unlikely to have any match practice before the Six Nations because England depart for a week's training camp in the Algarve on January 22.

Even though Hartley has been in this position previously this year, playing little rugby due to injury before the tour of Australia as well as the November series, it is difficult to keep repeating the trick. Saracens' Jamie George is an able deputy at hooker while the claims of Owen Farrell are significant if there is to be a change of captaincy. Jones said that former captain Chris Robshaw would not be asked to do a holding job.

"Chris has done his stint and he is more value to us in what he now does," said Jones, who has praised Farrell for being "a driving force" in the squad.

"He is the best of mates with Dylan. They room together. Yes, this is another test but that's good for us, although not good for Dylan. We can cope because we have to. There is confidence in Owen but it is about having the level under him to make sure he has the support there." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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