I have learned my lessons

Dylan Hartley

Dylan Hartley was sent off in the 2013 Premiership final

Dylan Hartley says he has “learned from his lessons” after being named England captain for the Six Nations.

Hartley, 29, succeeds Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw, who has been the national side’s skipper for four years.

The Northampton hooker has had a controversial playing past, having been banned for a total of 54 weeks for gouging, biting and striking.

“My rap sheet is well documented and I will get reminded of it daily,” Hartley told BBC sports editor Dan Roan.

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‘It has gone wrong in the past’

But Hartley has only had three yellow cards in 66 caps for England

Hartley’s longest ban of 26 weeks came in 2007 for eye-gouging, and he received an 11-week suspension in 2013 after being sent off for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Premiership final.

It meant he missed the British and Irish Lions’ tour to Australia that year – which he had been selected for. He also missed last year’s World Cup as a direct consequence of a four-week ban for headbutting.

Although Hartley said he “always had faith” he would play for England again, he admitted to his “surprise” at being given the captaincy.

“Yes I am surprised, but I will take it with two hands,” he said. “I am confident in myself as a player at Test level. I have captained my club for six years and have learned a lot there.

“I sometimes get it wrong but it has gone well for me at Northampton too. You need to get yourself at a level to be competitive and confrontational. It has gone wrong in the past but it will stay there.”

Asked if he will get it wrong again, Hartley replied: “No, of course not. I have learned from my lessons and it is for me to live with. Now I have to lead by example and answer the critics. I am a motivated person.”

A vote on BBC Sport’s Sportsday Live showed 59% thought England were not right to appoint Hartley as captain

‘We have to repair England’s damaged image’

England boss Eddie Jones said the choice of captain was “not a criticism of the past”, but when asked about Hartley’s disciplinary record, he responded: “The image of English rugby has been damaged enough. Our job is to repair the image of English rugby which is by playing really good rugby which produces positive results.”

Jones insisted he was “not worried” about Hartley’s previous offences, adding: “The only risk is to not take a risk.”

How the pros reacted:

Former England captain Will Carling on BBC Radio 5 live: “I am excited by the appointment as it is a statement, it is about winning. Eddie Jones wants a guy who will go out with an edge, not one who is possibly politically correct and safe. Winning at rugby or in sport is not about being safe. That is why I like it, real leadership is about how you act, commit and show passion.

“When I was captain, it was about how we started winning games and the mentality to win games. It was not about saying, ‘oh, let’s see if we can be role models to young children’. There is a huge amount of pressure on sportsmen to be role models. Is it more important for a professional sportsman and woman to be a role model or a winner?”

What they said on Twitter:

Northampton team-mate and England centre Luther Burrell
Former England winger Mark Cueto
Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson

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