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Eddie Jones Throws Embattled Dylan Hartley A Huge Lifeline Ahead Of Six Nations

Northampton Saints and England captain Dylan Hartley has been thrown a timely lifeline by England head coach Eddie Jones a mere four weeks out from the 2017 Six Nations.

Currently serving a six week suspension for a reckless tackle on Leinster’s Seán O’Brien, questions over Hartley’s suitability as England captain have been asked ever since the December 9th incident.

Touted as a potential Lions captain following England’s Grand Slam Six Nation victory last year, it had looked like the hooker’s past disciplinary issues had finally been put behind him, right up until his latest rush of blood to the head, that is.

European Rugby Champions Cup Round 3, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England 9/12/2016 Northampton Saints vs Leinster Referee Jérôme Garcès red card Dylan Hartley of Northampton Saints

Now, with England set to face France on February 4th, Eddie Jones has, according to Planetrugby, rubber stamped Hartley as his captain once again, provided he can meet certain fitness requirements following his suspension.

“Dylan has got to come to Portugal (England training camp) fit and ready to go.

“He’s doing all the right things at the moment and if he keeps on doing that, there’s no reason why he won’t be starting hooker and captain.

“He has got to be one of the fittest players. He is on a stringent fitness programme now. He ate turkey and broccoli for Christmas dinner. He has to watch his diet.”

Of his latest brush with the citing commission, Jones reveals he has spoken to his captain of his responsibilities as a player and leader.

“We’ve had many chats and no one is more disappointed than he is.

“He is a proud Northampton player and he wants to captain England. That’s the first mistake he has made for us. Dylan made a judgment error. He went to hit the bloke hard, he wanted to stop the ball, the player’s height changed and he had a loose arm. I see that as his first mistake, so there is no reason why that changes anything.”

With Jones now ready to stand behind his captain once again, it would appear that Hartley can now look to get back on track and push for his Lions place.

However, as we have seen, the red mist is never too far way with the volatile New Zealand born star and fans will remain concerned that if selected for the trip to face the All Blacks, the home side and support will be quick to push the hooker’s buttons.

On a personal level, therefore, the next ten weeks are just about the most important of Hartley’s career.

Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.