Mallinder: Hartley’s return as skipper not a slight on Wood’s Saints captaincy

Jim Mallinder has made Dylan Hartley the Saints skipper for next season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Jim Mallinder has made Dylan Hartley the Saints skipper for next season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Jim Mallinder insists the decision to offer Dylan Hartley the Saints captaincy is no reflection on Tom Wood’s leadership abilities.

Wood skippered Mallinder’s men last season, having taken over the role from Lee Dickson during the summer of 2016.

But Hartley will now be handed the armband for the 2017/18 season, with the hooker having previously led Saints to Premiership, Challenge Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup glory from 2009 to 2015.

The England star, who has captained his country to back-to-back Six Nations titles since taking over as Red Rose skipper in January 2016, has also been handed a new contract.

Hartley’s current deal was due to expire next summer, but the 31-year-old will now be staying on beyond that term.

And Mallinder said: “Dylan has rightly received recognition as a superb captain for club and country.

“He led the team during a very successful period for us, has the respect of the rest of the squad and coaches alike, and knows what it takes to win silverware.

“The decision to offer Dylan the captaincy is no reflection on how Tom Wood led the team last season.

“Tom is an outstanding leader himself who is fully committed in training and in games each and every week, and he will remain an important part of the leadership group.

“But we felt that Dylan is in the right place both personally and professionally to be our captain once again.

“We’re also delighted that he has signed a new contract to stay at Franklin’s Gardens.

“Dylan has been one of the best hookers in Europe for several years and is hugely committed to the Saints.”