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Mike Brown backs Dylan Hartley to lead British and Irish Lions in New Zealand

Published 16/08/2016

Dylan Hartley has been backed to lead the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand next summer
Dylan Hartley has been backed to lead the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand next summer

Mike Brown has thrown his weight behind Dylan Hartley's candidacy to captain the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand next summer.

Harlequins full-back Brown has tipped his England skipper to lead the Lions in the Test series against the All Blacks, in a squad he feels could boast a number of Eddie Jones' men.

Former Japan coach Jones led England to a debut Test series win in Australia in June, with Hartley since installed as the early bookies' favourite for the Lions armband next summer.

"Of course I'd back Dylan to lead the Lions," Brown told Press Association Sport.

"I'd back any of our squad, every player in that squad to represent anyone.

"We've got a special group of players, so I'd back anyone in that squad to go on and achieve things.

"Dylan's been great so far but there's still a lot of hard work to get done.

"It may be in the back of people's minds but for us it's about starting off for our club, playing well to get selected there.

"And then once we're selected it's about the next job, to achieve our main goal which is to prepare well and then aim to beat South Africa in November."

Head coach Jones' England have the chance to equal Sir Clive Woodward's record of 14 consecutive Test wins this autumn.

England set that mark in 2003, but the current crop of players are refusing to pinpoint any targets beyond the opening November clash with the Springboks at Twickenham.

Wales captain Sam Warburton will doubtless be among the front-runners to lead the Lions next summer, but Brown believes Hartley's stewardship of England merits close consideration.

Hartley missed the 2013 Lions tour after being hit with a ban for his red card for abusing referee Wayne Barnes in that year's Aviva Premiership final.

The combative Northampton hooker was then dropped from England's 2015 World Cup squad following a four-week ban for headbutting Saracens' Jamie George.

Hartley has spent more than a year of his career sidelined through suspensions, but has turned his Test situation on its head since being appointed captain under Jones.

Brown believes Hartley's fuss-free approach proved pivotal to England's Test series whitewash victory over Australia, and backed the 30-year-old to keep on growing into the role.

"Dylan's a great bloke, I've known him since my under-21s days," said Brown.

"I played alongside him in that team, so I've played with him all the way through, with and against him.

"And he's a good leader in his actions and also in his words.

"He's brought this group of players together really well.

"He seems to work well with Eddie as well, so it's going well.

"And I think he's got a great core of experienced players around him to help. I'm sure he'd be the first to say that.

"We put pressure on ourselves as the older players in the squad to help our captain as much as possible.

"It's not just him talking, it's people like Dan Cole, Danny Care, Owen Farrell, who are all leaders in their own right.

"And everyone's stepping up in that department to help our skipper."

:: Mike Brown was appearing alongside his England team-mates at the launch of the new England Rugby shirt from Canterbury #CommittedToTheGame. Visit Canterbury.com.

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