Controversial Hartley set for England captaincy


London (AFP)

Eddie Jones is set to disregard Dylan Hartley's dire disciplinary record by making him England captain, according to British media reports on Sunday.

Australian boss Jones, the first overseas coach of the England side, is due to name his skipper on Sunday, with Chris Robshaw set to lose the captaincy after England's woeful World Cup campaign.

Hartley has amassed a huge 54 weeks worth of bans in his career, suspensions that forced him to miss the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia and last year's World Cup, with his offences including eye-gouging, biting, punching, elbowing, head-butting and swearing at a referee.

But Northampton skipper Hartley remains arguably England's best hooker and England World Cup-winner Ben Kay believes he is the man to harden up England's pack.

"One of the things that came out of the World Cup was that perhaps England were too disciplined and teams saw that as an opportunity," former England lock Kay said.

"Perhaps other teams thought they could get away with whatever they wanted and that England wouldn't react. England were almost scared to be undisciplined.

"We all know that rugby is a physical game and at times you play on the edge. Occasionally you have to be forgiven for straying over the edge because that means you're performing right on it.

"That's maybe why Eddie Jones isn't worried about picking someone whose disciplinary record isn't brilliant.

"It sends a message out that England will keep that edge that makes them horrible to play against."

Kay added: "He (Hartley) has obviously had his disciplinary issues, but if England were awash with leaders in that older bracket, Dylan probably wouldn't be the choice. But as an interim he would do a good job."

Jones explained what he expected of his captain when he announced his first squad on January 13.

"Your captain's got to be your best player. He's got to be one of the first selected in the team, and then he's got to lead by example," Jones said.

"He needs to set standards for the team in terms of how we operate off the field, how we operate on the field, and he's got to be a conduit between the coaching staff and the players.

"Him and I are going to work so closely together. He is the coach of the team, he has got to be making that decision for the team on the field."