Warren Gatland: England's Dylan Hartley could captain British and Irish Lions

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Warren Gatland: Lions coach says he could not turn the job down

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says England captain Dylan Hartley has the right qualities to lead the side in New Zealand in 2017.

Gatland, appointed coach on Wednesday for a second time, named Wales' Sam Warburton as captain on the 2013 tour of Australia.

Gatland praised Hartley's improved discipline, saying: "He's matured, and he's done a great job with England.

"He hasn't been suspended for a while. That's a big tick against his name."

A dismal disciplinary record has chequered Hartley's career, but he has impressed since being named England captain in January.

Hartley was selected for the 2013 tour but was subsequently suspended for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Premiership final.

"Dylan has always played on the edge and that has been one of the traits that has made him such a competitor as a player," said Gatland.

Dylan Hartley
Dylan Hartley has won 75 caps for England

Hartley captained England to the Grand Slam in the Six Nations and a 3-0 series whitewash of Australia.

Gatland said: "It's easier to select players who are coming in from a winning environment with a lot of confidence. It's the same when you are picking captains.

"There are players you're familiar with, that you have been leading already, that has certain advantages. Have you been on previous tours? There are lots of considerations.

"Apart from obvious names, there will be quite a few others [who] come into consideration by the end of the season."

The 2017 Lions face a gruelling 10-match series, beginning only one week after domestic finals on 3 June, featuring three Tests against the All Blacks and five matches against Super Rugby teams and a clash with the Maori.

Gatland will announce his assistants in December.

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