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Lions Legend Ian McGeechan Makes A Crazy Pick For The Next England Captain

Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary

With Stuart Lancaster now disposed of as England's rugby captain, the now apparently annual campaign to "find" a new captain has begun. This, despite Chris Robshaw being 29 and a much better captain than he was when Lancaster first gave him the job.

Despite this, Irish & British Lions legendary head coach Sir Ian McGeechan has weighed in on who he thinks should be the man to lead England towards Japan in 2019. The criteria? The player must be a nailed on starter, and he must be " a strong personality and character to lead England."

So forgive me for being highly confused that McGeechan plumps for the "strong personality" of Dylan Hartley. That's the same Dylan Hartley whose discipline problems have been widely reported - costing him both a Lions tour in 2013, and a World Cup place in 2015 through suspension. Is that the leader and role model you want in charge of your country just a few months after Lancaster spread the correct 'no tolerance' message towards Hartley.

The Northampton Saints captain is clearly a good player, and the 29-year-old has long been the captain of his club. He has the pedigree, and is definitely a better hooker than the converted centre that is Tom Youngs. But to suggest that Youngs would be a good captain of England is ludicrous, and out of character for McGeechan.

Yes, there is an element of the gamble about it because of Hartley’s disciplinary record, but that is where you back yourself as a coach. You have to give Hartley a very clear understanding of what you expect from him. Yellow cards simply cannot be a part of it.

This is the same McGeechan who masterminded the Lions victory of South Africa in 1997 - promoting Martin Johnson to his first captaincy position ahead of Keith Wood to great success. McGeechan should know who can make a good captain and who wouldn't - but this seems like a step too far.

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If that's the "strong personality" that England want to lead them, then that should spell good news for Ireland.

[Telegraph]

See Also: It Seems Dylan Hartley Has Had One Indiscretion Too Many For England

See Also: There's A War Of Words Brewing Between Neil Francis And Dylan Hartley

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