England great Lawrence Dallaglio believes Eddie Jones’ team aren’t good enough to win next year’s World Cup unless issues are addressed, including Dylan Hartley’s much-criticised captaincy role.
“What baffles me is that England knew what was coming in Edinburgh. Because they are a good team, there was the expectation they would be ready for it. Sadly from an English point of view, they weren’t,” Dallaglio wrote.
“Issues have to be addressed because when you now put the pluses on one side and the minuses on the other, the bottom line is a team who do not look good enough to win the World Cup in Japan next year.”
Dallaglio put aside the debate over England’s lack of a world class specialist No 7 to put more heat on Kiwi-born Hartley and Jones’ seemingly unbreakable faith in his hooker’s captaincy qualities.
“Jones still has a lot of thinking to do. First, he must work out whether it makes sense to continue with Hartley as captain,” Dallaglio wrote.
“England have done well under the hooker’s leadership: 24 wins from 26 test matches is a formidable record. Ideally, the captain should be one of the team’s strongest players but Hartley is not. He is often one of the first players to be substituted and, again, that is far from ideal.
“My feeling is that if the captain is not the best English player in his position you are starting from a bad place, and I don’t see Hartley as better than Jamie George. I can see why the coach might not want to change his captain but in my view there is greater risk in not making the change.
“Since the World Cup started in 1987, every winning captain has been an exceptional leader and outstanding player; David Kirk, Nick Farr-Jones, Francois Pienaar, John Eales, Martin Johnson, John Smit and Richie McCaw. I’m not saying Hartley can’t lead England to victory in Japan but to do so, he will have to break the mould.”
Dallglio’s stablemate at the Sunday Times, noted rugby correspondent Stephen Jones, added to the unwanted spotlight on Hartley, calling for him to be one of five changes for the clash with France in Paris.
“Up front, Jamie George for the captain Dylan Hartley. Jones bemoaned the lack of leadership in his team, and as George is now by some distance the superior and more electric player, what grounds are there for retaining the status quo?” he wrote.