Dylan Hartley to bring the mongrel to new look England
Eddie Jones set to pick controversial hooker as his new captain, with nice-guy Chris Robshaw out of the picture
The England rugby team is set to get a new captain under coach Eddie Jones after it emerged that the Australian coach had earmarked hooker Dylan Hartley, who was not part of the World Cup squad, for the role.
Chris Robshaw, who led the team's disastrous World Cup campaign, is to be relieved of his duties by Jones, and it is widely reported that Hartley will be the man to replace him.
The 29-year-old Northampton hooker already has 66 England caps to his name but appointing him would be a controversial step. He has a "dismal disciplinary record that totals 54 weeks of suspensions for a range of offences including gouging, biting and head-butting", reports Sky Sports.
Hartley missed the World Cup because of disciplinary issues and was also missing from the 2013 Lions tour of Australia for similar reasons.
However, Jones reportedly "admires his abrasiveness and feels that by selecting him as skipper he would set the tone for a forward pack that he would like to rediscover its hard edge".
Most observers agree that he has the skills required for the job and Chris Jones of the BBC notes that Hartley's "ballast and technical ability were badly missed by England during the World Cup".
England's rivals are already taking note of the changes at Twickenham. If he does appoint Hartley it will mean the Australian "has binned the goody-two-shoes priorities that underpinned Stuart Lancaster's reign," notes Delme Parfit of Wales Online.
"The juxtaposition of Hartley's expected anointment with the sidelining of Chris Robshaw only brings the Lancaster-Jones contrast into sharper focus. Goodbye fine ambassador, model skipper, honest trier but limited performer. Hello bad boy, liability, serial offender yet one of the best in the world in his position."
Robshaw, who captained England from openside flanker, could still make the Six Nations team as a blindside flanker reports the Daily Express, but he is not the sort of leader Jones wants.
"A double act of Hartley and Mike Brown is more his style and if it carries a whiff of 'bad cop/worse cop' then that is just what Jones intends," writes Neil Squires. "After only a fortnight in the job it appears as if Jones has a clear mental picture of what is missing from England. In his native Australian it is known as 'mongrel' and if the current England players cannot demonstrate to Jones they have it then they will swiftly be heading out of his squad."