England captain Dylan Hartley says “I don’t feel like players come after me.”
Eddie Jones appointed the Saints hooker as captain despite bans totalling 54 weeks in his career
The 29-year-old has been backed by England fan favourite Mike Brown to be a massive success
England captain Dylan Hartley has revealed he is confident his international experience will ensure he keeps emotions in check during the Six Nations.
The 29-year-old Northampton Saint has been handed the captaincy by Eddie Jones despite bans totalling 54 weeks in his career.
“There have been plenty of questions and I will give the same answer to them all. I am ready,” revealed the hooker.
“I have been playing a long time and I don’t feel like players come after me.
“First and foremost I’ve got to get in the team and play well.” added Hartley.
England and Harlequins fullback Mike Brown, who is no stranger to on-field arguments himself, believes the Saints hooker has everything needed to become a great international skipper.
“People can try [to wind Hartley up], I’m sure,” said Brown.
“I’m pretty positive he’ll be fine. It’s just about controlling yourself and dealing with that. Dylan is a good appointment as leader.
‘I’ve grown up playing alongside him since England Under-21s. He was a leader back then and he is now. That’s why he has been chosen.
“That’s not to say Chris [Robshaw] isn’t a leader. You can’t do that job if you don’t have the leaders around you.
“If you look at the 2003 England World Cup winning team they had a captain in every position. That’s what we are striving to have.
“To be successful as an international team, you have to play on the edge, have that edge, be confrontational and never take a step back.
“Dylan leads from the front. He’s aggressive, he’s confrontational, he never takes a backwards step.
“He sets very high standards for himself and expects everyone around him to have those high standards. That’s what you want in your leader and we’ll all follow to the best of our abilities and help him out.”
When asked about Hartley’s disciplinary record, coach Eddie Jones insisted he was not taking a gamble.
“The image of English rugby has been damaged enough,” he said.
“Our job is to repair the image of English rugby which is by playing really good rugby which produces positive results.”
Jones insisted he was “not worried” about Hartley’s previous offences, adding: “The only risk is to not take a risk.
“People mature. We all make mistakes as young people. I made a hell of a lot as a young coach.
“If he is an opposition target, then great, because it takes the emphasis away from what the other team needs to do to win. “If they spend half their time baiting Dylan, they are going to be wasting their time.”