News: England head coach Eddie Jones believes that Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley can continue as England captain through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Jones, has seen a striking progress in Hartley’s performances since the turn of the year. Hartley has had fierce competition with Jamie George for England captaincy, with the Saracens front row being picked for the Lions tour, while Hartley will be on England’s tour of Argentina.
The 31-year-old has skippered his country in all 17 of their Tests played during Jones’ tenure and the England chief is challenging Hartley to up his intensity and become ‘the Butcher of Rotorua’ rather than ‘the Squire of Northampton’.
The Northampton Saints man was named England captain ahead of the 2016 RBS 6 Nations and led Jones’ troops to the Grand Slam, as well as victory in this year’s Championship.
Hartley will captain England during their summer tour of Argentina and Jones has opened the door for the hooker to cement his position ahead of the ninth World Cup in Japan in just under two-and-a-half years’ time.
“Initially, it was a two-year plan,” said the England boss.
“After that, it was going to come down to whether he’s improving as a player and as a captain.
“He was measurably better during the Six Nations than he was in November. His captaincy has gone up to another level.
“The preparation he’s doing for Argentina would suggest he’s going in the right direction. There’s no reason he can’t carry on to 2019.
“It depends how hungry he is – whether he keeps on being the Butcher of Rotorua or becomes the Squire of Northampton.”
Meanwhile, Jones has called up Gloucester Rugby scrum-half Willi Heinz, 30, and Bristol Rugby back Jason Woodward, 26, for a three-day England training camp in Brighton, which starts tomorrow.
Bristol prop Jamal Ford-Robinson, 23, and Worcester Warriors trio Nick Schonert, 25, Jack Singleton, 21, and Will Spencer, 24, will all also have the chance to impress Jones.
However, the England camp will not include any players who are involved in the upcoming Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals.
England training camp
Josh Beaumont (Sale Sharks)
Rob Buchanan (Harlequins)
Will Collier (Harlequins)
Ben Curry (Sale Sharks)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)
Tom Ellis (Bath Rugby)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)
Jamal Ford-Robinson (Bristol Rugby)
Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Nick Schonert (Worcester Warriors)
Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
Will Spencer (Worcester Warriors)
Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Mike Haley (Sale Sharks)
Willi Heinz (Gloucester)
Sam James (Sale Sharks)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
Jonny May (Gloucester)
Ryan Mills (Worcester Warriors)
Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks)
Jason Woodward (Bristol Rugby)
Marland Yarde (Harlequins)
Source: RBS 6 NATIONS