Saints keep faith with sinner Hartley
August 8, 2013
Dylan Hartley was given his marching orders during last season's Premiership finale and is currently sidelined through suspension © PA Photos
Northampton Saints have announced that hooker Dylan Hartley will retain the club captaincy for the forthcoming season.
Dylan Hartley's disciplinary woe
Hartley ended last season in disgrace having been sent off during the Saints' Aviva Premiership final defeat to Leicester for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes. He was subsequently handed an 11-week ban that ruled him out of the British & Irish Lions' tour to Australia having previously been selected for the trip Down Under.
However, Hartley continues to benefit from the support of Saints boss Jim Mallinder who is convinced the 27-year-old still has the respect of the players and coaches and is the right man to lead his side into the new campaign.
"Dylan has matured a great deal over the past few years and is now an excellent club captain," he 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.
It will be Hartley's fifth season at the Saints' helm and under his charge they have reached the Heineken Cup and Aviva Premiership finals. "We certainly believe that he has the temperament to do well under the pressure," added Mallinder, "and will continue to improve as a player and as a leader."
Hartley retained his place in the latest England Elite Player Squad last week following a meeting with coach Stuart Lancaster that addressed his concerns over the player's latest brush with disciplinary chiefs.
"I met Dylan a couple of weeks ago, we had a long conversation," said Lancaster. "I wanted to understand exactly what happened that day [of the final], and what his view on it now was. I wanted to be reassured that he understands where the line is, and what's right and what's wrong in terms of discipline. He knows he did wrong but there's enough I've seen of Dylan to reassure me that he deserves his next chance."
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