England captain Dylan Hartley has put pen to paper on a new deal with the Northampton Saints and has assumed the role of club captain for the second time.
The 31-year-old hooker, who appears to be finally leaving his less than squeaky clean disciplinary record behind him, has been rewarded with the captain’s armband by Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder, much to the surprise of the player himself.
In a statement released on the Saints website, Hartley admitted it was unexpected but not an honour he was going to refuse.
“When Jim approached me about taking on the captaincy I was surprised. For me the timing is right and it is certainly a challenge I want to take on. I’m very passionate about the Saints and would love to see us competing for trophies. We have some valuable experience within the squad that will be driving the team forward this year.”
Similarly for Mallinder, extending Hartley’s contract was just rewards for the efforts of the England international.
“Dylan has rightly received recognition as a superb captain for club and country,” he says.
“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.
“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.”
Having previously iterated his commitment to the club and his desire to see out the remainder of his career as a Saints player, Hartley will now look to lead the franchise back to the top of Premiership table, a feat he achieved back in 2014.
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