Lions Watch - 2
British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has described England captain Dylan Hartley as a man who has the right qualities needed to lead his side in New Zealand next year.
Gatland was appointed coach on Wednesday for a second time with hopes of winning on foreign soil again. Within the first day taking the role, he commented on the England captaincy, giving a positive assessment of Hartley's credentials for the job.The other contendersChosen for the last tour as captain was Wales' captain, Sam Warburton. His fellow Welshman Alun Wyn Jones led the side in the final test while Warburton was nursing his injury.
However, times have changed since then.Some players have improved while others haven't reached the potential they showed down under. Doubts have been raised about Jones' place in the starting lineup because of the sudden rise of England & Saracens pair Maro Itoje and George Kruis.
Meanwhile the likes of James Haskell, Justin Tipuric and John Hardie are battling with Warbuton for the openside flanker role. Ireland's hopes of captaincy are thin with Rory Best and Jamie Heaslip not being the best in their positions. Although Peter O'Mahony is seen by some as the man for the captaincy, recent injuries don't help his case.
Gatland's comments in speaking about the England hooker have lead many to believe that he already knows his captain. The Lions coach was quick to cite Hartley's improvement in discipline while also highlighting the importance of players in the squad possessing a winning mentality. This is something Hartley is familiar with having not lost with England since taking over as captain.