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James Haskell hails England captain Dylan Hartley's leadership

Published 24/06/2016

James Haskell (right) has praised England captain Dylan Hartley (left)
James Haskell (right) has praised England captain Dylan Hartley (left)

Dylan Hartley's captaincy during a year that is among the most successful in English rugby history has been endorsed by one of his chief lieutenants.

Hartley was a controversial appointment by incoming head coach Eddie Jones due to a dismal disciplinary record comprising of 54 weeks of suspensions for a range of offences including biting and swearing at a referee.

The Northampton hooker has proved an inspired choice, however, with England chasing a series whitewash of Australia in Sydney on Saturday only three months after completing the Grand Slam.

James Haskell, arguably the player of the series Down Under, believes his leadership is underpinned by the highs and lows he has endured.

"It's funny that people thought Dylan was a controversial choice. Anyone who is vanilla is never really that successful. Even Tiger Woods proved that," Haskell said.

"Everyone looked at him when he was the man, whiter than white, and even he had a flawed character. He was the best in the world for a long period of time.

"Everyone kind of has that kind of stuff. I'm not saying Dylan's got a flawed character, what I'm saying is that a little bit of edge, a little bit of something about you, is good. It shows that you know both sides of the path.

"I'm just glad that after the early months, when people were looking for excuses and reasons why it was a bad idea, he's come through and shown that it doesn't matter what you've done and who you are.

"Having a bit of edge and a bit of personality and a bit of whatever it might be, right or wrong, good or bad, can help a team.

"He's been great for us, he's been great for me. He's very clear in what he wants from me. He uses his leaders. He understands it's about senior leaders, not just about him, and he uses us very well.

"He's very clear, he's definitely the boss, and I really like that. That's what you want from a captain.

"You want someone to go to you and say 'the buck stops with you'. He speaks well and plays with his heart on his sleeve.

"I know from years of listening to the Northampton boys that he's always led by example; he's already run a real tight ship. He's always been a visible character."

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