The English rugby media's post-mortem of the shock loss to Scotland continues to drive forward at an unrelenting pace. Deep dives into supposed complacency, back-row woes and the subsequent abuse of their head coach have all been forthcoming. Now the magnifying glass moves to their captain.
Dylan Hartley is a polarising figure. The English captain's checkered have made him a controversial choice but Eddie Jones was adamant Hartley was his man. Writing in the Sunday Times today, former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio has challenged this pick and feel's Hartley is not deserving of the starting hooker position.
While Dallaglio is not panicking over the Scotland result, he does feel some things have to change: 'Jones still has a lot of thinking to do. First, he must work out whether it makes sense to continue with Hartley as captain.'
Ideally, the captain should be one of the team's strongest players but Hartley is not. He is often one of the first players to be substituted and, again, that is far from ideal. My feeling is that if the captain is not the best English player in his position you are starting from a bad place, and I don't see Hartley as better than Jamie George. I can see why the coach might not want to change his captain but in my view, there is greater risk in not making the change.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for Hartley apologists to counter this point. All the arguments about his leadership ability and influence cannot account for one fundamental downfall, Hartley is not the best player in his position. He is frequently replaced early and his contribution in the loose has dwindled so far this season.
With a trip to France on the horizon before a titanic clash with Ireland, it will be interesting to see does Jones decide to stick or twist with his mercurial captain.
You can read the full column here.