England international hooker Dylan Hooker will retain the captain’s armband for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Football Union club the Northampton Saints this season, it has been confirmed. The 27 year old Englishman was sent off during the club’s playoff final defeat at the hands of bitter rivals the Leicester Tigers last season and was handed a ban of 11 weeks afterwards for swearing at the referee and calling him a cheat.
This was just another issue to a number of disciplinary problems the player has had in the last six years and it was speculated he would be stripped of the captaincy but that hasn’t been the case. Jim Mallinder, the Director of Rugby at the club stated that the player has learned from what transpired at the Twickenham Stoop during the play off final and added that the player knows what exactly is expected of him this season.
Mallinder also mentioned that the Northampton Saints are aware that the events during the play off final will mean that a lot of eyes will be scrutinizing the player and it is duty to make him feel protected. He stated that the club believes that the player has the capability to do well under pressure and they all believe he will still improve as a player as well as a leader.
Mallinder also stated that the player has matured a lot over the last few years and is a brilliant example of a captain leading his players from the front. Hartley’s sending off in the first half cost the Northampton Saints the match in the playoff final and his subsequent 11 week ban meant that he was not picked for the British and Irish Lions’ tour of Australia this summer and he will have a lot to do to make things right.