Dylan Hartley lifts the Six Nations championship trophy
Hartley is set to be at the helm against the Wallabies in June after proving to be an inspired choice as skipper to diffuse any lingering controversy generated by his dire disciplinary record.
The hooker’s immediate future is shrouded in uncertainty after he was knocked out against France on Saturday, but head coach Eddie Jones’ endorsement of his leadership credentials is sure to comfort him as he follows the return to the play protocols for concussion.
“I’ll sit down with Dylan over the next two to three weeks and plan out the Australian tour,” said Jones, who hopes to appoint a full-time scrum coach and assistant attack coach before they head Down Under.
“The great thing about Dylan is that he’s a bit of a rogue, a likeable rogue. He’s got good people skills, he’s not afraid to tell people what they should be doing when they are not doing it and he’s not afraid to give someone a pat on the pack.
“He’s done an outstanding job as captain. He can still get better as captain – and he will – but he has done a really good job.
“At this stage there’s no reason why Dylan won’t be captain as long as he keeps improving as a player. If he keeps improving as a player, he’ll remain as captain for the tour.”
Hartley’s night in Paris was cut short with 12 minutes of the 31-21 victory remaining after taking an accidental knee to the head and he received lengthy medical attention before being carried off on a stretcher.
The 29-year-old, who lost two months to concussion earlier in the season, was able to return to the pitch for the trophy presentation but Jones revealed on Sunday that he remains groggy.
“He’s recovering. He took a nasty blow and he’s getting well looked after by the medical staff. He’ll undergo all of the normal head injury protocols and he’s still a bit under the weather,” Jones said.