Dylan Hartley: England captain says he has 'learned his lessons'

Captain Hartley to 'lead by example'
RBS Six Nations
Dates: Saturday, 6 February - Saturday, 19 March
Coverage: Live coverage of eight games on BBC One and BBC One HD. Minute-by-minute coverage of all the home nations' games on BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra, and across the BBC's digital platforms

Dylan Hartley says he has "learned from his lessons" after being named England captain for the Six Nations.

Hartley, 29, succeeds Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw, who has been the national side's skipper for four years.

The Northampton hooker has had a controversial playing past, having been banned for a total of 54 weeks for gouging, biting and striking.

"My rap sheet is well documented and I will get reminded of it daily," Hartley told BBC sports editor Dan Roan.

'It has gone wrong in the past'

Hartley's bans in a bar chart

Hartley's longest ban of 26 weeks came in 2007, when he was punished for eye-gouging.

He also received an 11-week suspension in 2013 after being sent off for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Premiership final.

It meant he missed the British and Irish Lions' tour to Australia that year. He also missed last year's World Cup as a direct consequence of a four-week ban for headbutting.

Although Hartley said he "always had faith" he would play for England again, he admitted to his "surprise" at being given the captaincy.

"I am confident in myself as a player at Test level," he said. "I have captained my club for six years and have learned a lot there.

"I sometimes get it wrong, but it has gone well for me at Northampton, too. You need to get yourself at a level to be competitive and confrontational."

Asked if he will get it wrong again, Hartley replied: "No, of course not. I have learned from my lessons and it is for me to live with. Now I have to lead by example and answer the critics. I am a motivated person."

He added: "I'm well aware of the perception and the reputation that comes with it, but I play my best when I'm on the edge. I just know to not go over the edge."

The coach's view

When asked about Hartley's disciplinary record, coach Eddie Jones insisted he was not taking a gamble.

"The image of English rugby has been damaged enough," he said.

"Our job is to repair the image of English rugby which is by playing really good rugby which produces positive results."

Jones insisted he was "not worried" about Hartley's previous offences, adding: "The only risk is to not take a risk.

"People mature. We all make mistakes as young people. I made a hell of a lot as a young coach.

"If he is an opposition target, then great, because it takes the emphasis away from what the other team needs to do to win. "If they spend half their time baiting Dylan, they are going to be wasting their time."

A former captain's view

Former England captain Will Carling said he was "excited" by Hartley's appointment.

"It is a statement, it is about winning," Carling told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Eddie Jones wants a guy who will go out with an edge, not one who is possibly politically correct and safe.

"Winning at rugby or in sport is not about being safe. That is why I like it. Real leadership is about how you act, commit and show passion."

He added: "When I was captain, it was about how we started winning games and the mentality to win games.

"There is a huge amount of pressure on sportsmen to be role models. Is it more important for a professional sportsman and woman to be a role model or a winner?"

The view on Twitter

Luther Burrell
Northampton team-mate and England centre Luther Burrell
Mark Cueto
Former England winger Mark Cueto
Matt Dawson
Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson
Tweet 1Tweet 2Tweet 3