Eddie Jones has dropped his broadest hint yet that Dylan Hartley will be England’s 2019 World Cup captain.
The likes of Sir Clive Woodward have insisted that the hooker be replaced as captain, with either Owen Farrell or Maro Itoje taking over.
The 31-year-old, who won his 88th cap against Australia on Saturday, is effectively on trial this autumn with Jones assessing whether to move onto the next generation at hooker with Test Lion Jamie George and with Owen Farrell as skipper.
But following another good display as skipper during England’s 30-6 win against the Wallabies on Saturday, he is fast cementing himself in for phase two through to the World Cup.
“Dylan was outstanding. His captaincy was first-class. He’s moving from being a good captain to being a better captain,” said Jones.
“He’s been around a bit. He’s seen the bottom of the trough and he’s now surfing at the top of the crest.
“He appreciates relationships and he appreciates the opportunity of what he’s doing at the moment. He’s only going to grow as cap
“Dylan’s got a good demeanour about him with the referee,” said Jones.
““It’s difficult refereeing the game.
“We play a game that has contest in every component. One team’s trying to keep the ball, one team is trying to get the ball and so your ability to communicate effectively with the referee is so important and he does that brilliantly.”