Dylan Hartley insists that by the time his England career was over he could no longer take being “governed” by Eddie Jones as he revealed the brutal way he was told he would not be going to the World Cup.
Hartley was appointed skipper by Jones when the Australian replaced Stuart Lancaster at the end of 2015 and was at the helm for successive Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam.
But the 34-year-old, England’s third most capped player, then suffered concussion before he was prevented from taking part at Japan 2019 by a knee injury that forced his retirement in November.
In an interview printed in the Daily Telegraph, Hartley said that he felt “like a piece of meat, thrown in the bin because it was past its sell-by date. I’d had enough of being governed by Eddie.”
As he battled to prove his fitness, he was eventually told by Jones: “You’re f*****, mate”.
Hartley continues: “Even by the standards of the 6am texts he delivers while running on the treadmill, which make the recipient’s balls tighten and the brain melt, this phone call was brutal… he was effectively ending my England career with three words.”
The Northampton hooker, who also voices respect for Jones and states he is the best coach he played under, would not allow his family to come to England training camps because “it would have felt like a prison visit”.
He added on Jones’ sessions: “Anyone who looked even slightly out of shape had about as much chance of survival as a wildebeest wandering into a herd of lions. By matchday I was absolutely f****** b*******ed.
“If I’m honest it was just turning up, wanting just to get through the game and win so I could have a nice week, an easier week with Eddie.”
Hartley is also critical of the way his contemporaries have been treated by the game after making his Test debut in 2008.
“My generation of players have been crash dummies for a sport in transition from semi-professionalism,” he said.
“It’s being reshaped, subtly but relentlessly, by money men, geo-politicians, talking heads and television executives. They treat us as warm bodies, human widgets.
“It would be wrong to attempt to skirt the unavoidable truth that as players become bigger, faster and stronger they will be chewed up and spat out quicker. It is a given, therefore, that we need to insist on the highest standards of care.”