Six Nations: Dylan Hartley confirmed as England captain for 2017

Dylan Hartley
Dylan Hartley accompanied coach Eddie Jones to the launch
Six Nations 2017
Dates: Feb-18 March Coverage: BBC TV, Radio and online

Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley has been confirmed as England's captain for the Six Nations - two days after his six-week suspension for striking ended.

Coach Eddie Jones announced at the launch of the championship that the 30-year-old will continue in the role.

"I haven't actually told him... shall I say now? I'd like to announce Dylan's the captain," Jones said.

Hartley, who led England to the Grand Slam last year, was banned for hitting Leinster's Sean O'Brien in December.

He caught the Irish flanker high with a swinging arm during Northampton's 37-10 Champions Cup loss and was shown the third red card of his career.

The subsequent suspension took the total number of weeks he has been unavailable during his career to 60.

Hartley will not have played for nine weeks before England's opening game against France on 4 February at Twickenham.

When the captain was asked if he had changed his game in response to his latest sanction, Jones interrupted: "He's had 60 weeks off mate, he's a world expert."

The Australian added: "I think he's ready. He trained well on Tuesday and has still got a couple of days to go. We're pleased to have him back. It's the continuity of the job."

Hartley, when asked about his suitability for the role, said: "We did this last year, talking about me. I'm confident, I feel fresh, I feel fit, and focused.

"I'm here on behalf of the team. The challenge is to use this week as best we can to get the preparation right for a huge first game."

Hartley was dropped from England's 2015 Rugby World Cup squad after he headbutted Saracens' Jamie George, but was recalled by Jones after he replaced Stuart Lancaster.

The hooker went on to lead the side to a Six Nations Grand Slam as they embarked on a run of 14 consecutive Test match victories.

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has refused to be drawn on whether Hartley's disciplinary record will affect his chances of leading this summer's tour to New Zealand.

Hartley's rap sheet
April 2007: 26 weeks for eye gougingDecember 2014: three weeks for elbowing
March 2012: eight weeks for bitingMay 2015: four weeks for headbutting
December 2012: two weeks for punchingDecember 2016: six weeks for striking
May 2013: 11 weeks for swearing at a refereeTotal: 60 weeks

'I slipped in the hotel this morning'

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Eddie Jones

Jones attended the launch with a dressing on his face and a black eye, caused by a fall in the bathroom of his hotel.

However, the Australian did initially suggest he suffered the injury while attempting the combat sports England players have been practising since October.

"First we had judo and then we had MMA, so we're just going through all the martial arts sports to see what effect they have on the body," Jones said.

"My mother always told me I've got to shave and I forgot, so I walked out of the shower to get the shaver and this is what happened."

Will Haskell feature against France?

Back row James Haskell has been given the all-clear to link up with the squad after recovering from a foot injury that kept him out for six months.

The 31-year-old was a key part of England's Grand Slam and unbeaten tour of Australia in 2016.

But, having missed the autumn internationals, he faces a battle to oust Tom Wood, who was this week singled out for praise by Jones.

Jones said people would "have to wait and see" if Haskell would feature against France in 11 days' time.

"He has not had much rugby," he added. "He's played around 60 minutes against Zebre and 36 seconds against the opposition the previous week."

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