So, with three weeks left before England Play Scotland in the 6 Nations, Dylan Hartley, Eddie Jones’ choice as captain – if you believe the press, is still only capable of playing 50 minutes! His lineout throwing might have been alright, but his contribution around the pitch was underwhelming. even his coach said “It was tough for Dylan”.
Meanwhile, Tom Youngs (perhaps the most controversial omission from the squad) had yet another more than solid game for Leicester Tigers before the demolition of Treviso was complete. Even his much maligned lineout throwing was good!
I agree with pretty much all of the selections made in the EPS squad – some very exciting talent selected, but still find it hard to fathom why Youngs was not included and that Hartley not only was, but has widely been touted as the next England captain.
The promise was that the squad would be chosen entirely on what Jones has seen and the players who were not selected would know that they had not provided Jones with enough evidence to choose them. If that is the case, then Hartley shouldn’t even be in the squad, never mind being thought of as being the leader!
Many of Hartley’s detractors site his disciplinary record as being a reason not to have him in the team. Personally, it would be his lack of game time and more importantly, his lack of form – when fit he has struggled to be first pick in his position at Northampton. If you then add the ‘credit in the bank’ argument to help his selection, then the situation worsens for him.
The England captain should be the first name on the team sheet, not someone shoehorned in because he has abrasive leadership qualities that the coach likes. It’s not as if there aren’t other options.
I do hope that Eddie Jones has some sort of mystic insight into this selection and that I am proved wrong, but I still feel that whilst Hartley might not let the team down, i don’t think he will add the X Factor to this young and potentially dynamic England team.