Hartley retains Northampton Saints captaiincy

England’s New Zealand born hooker Dylan Hartley has retained the captaincy of Aviva Premiership Rugby club Northampton Saints for the coming season.

The 27-year-old ended last season in disgrace after being sent off during the Premiership final defeat to Leicester Tigers for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes.

That earnt him an 11-week ban and cost him a place in the British and Irish Lions squad on their victorious tour of Australia.

But now Saints’ director of rugby Jim Mallinder says Hartley – who has previously served lengthy bans for eye-gouging, biting and punching offences – is ready to put his past misdemeanours behind him.

“Dylan has matured a great deal over the past few years and is now an excellent club captain,” Mallinder said.

“A massive amount of that work is done behind the scenes during the week, and Dylan’s attitude and desire has won him the respect of the rest of the players as well as the backroom staff.

“Of course we’re aware that the events of May’s Aviva Premiership final will mean that there will be a lot of attention on Dylan this season. He has learned from what happened at Twickenham and knows what is expected of him in the coming season.

“We certainly believe that he has the temperament to do well under the pressure, and will continue to improve as a player and as a leader.”

Hartley will be available for Saints’ first match of the new season against Exeter on September 7.

He has also been included in England coach Stuart Lancaster’s squad for the November internationals.

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