Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Time for Hartley to Show He Has Shed His Wild Side; UTTLEY ON RUGBY

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Time for Hartley to Show He Has Shed His Wild Side; UTTLEY ON RUGBY

Article excerpt

Byline: with Roger Uttley

IT seems only a short time since the end of the Rugby World Cup, and now here we are just a week away from the first round of the 2016 RBS 6 Nations Championship.

As an England supporter my thoughts are on how events may unfold in their opening match against Scotland at Murrayfield, for the Calcutta Cup.

England's disappointments, around failing to qualify beyond the pool rounds of the World Cup, have been dealt with. A new management team has been put in place under the experienced Australian, Eddie Jones.

It is now time for him to step into the spotlight and to demonstrate that he can produce a winning England team.

As a statement of intent he has named a strong match squad, and importantly decided to name Dylan Hartley, the Northampton hooker, as his captain.

Hartley is a senior player with 66 caps to his credit, but has a chequered disciplinary record. One which has cost him a Lions tour and one which, I suspect, he will not be especially proud of.

But this is the start of a new era for England and a great opportunity for him.

He has been a long-serving captain of one of England's top clubs in the professional era, and has recently become a father for the first time. Hopefully these things will help to temper previous over-exuberance.

One can only hope that he appreciates and respects his new elevated position, and that the appointment proves rewarding for himself and more importantly for England's future success. The 23-man squad announced for training ahead of the opening game against Scotland seems eminently sensible and competitive, even if Wasps centre Elliot Daly can consider himself unfortunate to have missed out to Bath's Ollie Devoto.

Daly has been performing exceptionally well at club level and I'm sure his time will come. Devoto (pictured below) is perhaps a shade fortunate to be retained, given the form of his club side in recent months.

Having said that, whenever you watch him play he does seem to be an influential player who has a positive effect on games. …

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