Haskell backs Hartley appointment as England captain

James Haskell (far left) has supported the decision to appoint Dylan Hartley (right) England captain
James Haskell (far left) has supported the decision to appoint Dylan Hartley (right) England captain

Dylan Hartley’s promotion to England captain has the full support of one of the players eye-gouged by the Saints hooker nine years ago.

Hartley was named as Eddie Jones’ skipper for the RBS 6 Nations on Monday afternoon despite a dire disciplinary record comprising of over a year’s worth of suspensions.

Among the former Northampton captain’s offences is gouging the eyes of Wasps forwards James Haskell and Johnny O’Connor in 2007, an act that resulted in a 26-week ban.

Haskell, however, welcomes the appointment of the combative 29-year-old as Chris Robshaw’s successor, stating he “could not care less” about his indiscretions.

“If you are the best guy for the job you lead by example and you play. Your track record doesn’t matter,” said Wasps captain Haskell.

“There might be a few people with stiff collars who will get upset, but that’s the nature of the game. You live and die by the sword.

“Dylan is a good man and a good player. You know he will give 100 per cent and I could not care less what he has done before.”

Jones spoke to his senior players at the squad’s Surrey training base on Monday before officially announcing Hartley as captain for England’s rebuilding phase following a disastrous World Cup.

“I have played with Dylan since England Under-19s and gone all the way through with him. He is a good man and abrasive, which is what you want,” Haskell said.

“He is always committed to what he does and he would be a good captain. He captained Saints for a long time and commands respect from the boys.

“He expects everyone to toe the party line. He’ll lead by example and his passion for the shirt is renowned.

“I love Dylan and he is a good friend of mine. You pick the players to do a job.

“I am not particularly conformist myself. I do not worry too much about people’s opinions.

“Whoever is made captain, the rest of the team will have to get behind him and that is what we will do.”