Crashball Rugby's editor Alistair Stokes explains why Northampton Saints must choose another club captain for the 2018/19 Aviva Premiership season.
Photo credit: @SaintsRugby
England captain Dylan Hartley faces a monumental task next season, leading his country to a Rugby World Cup win and grabbing his club side by the scruff of the neck to drag them from the lows they have fallen to of late.
Hartley's dedication to his role as England captain is exceptional, it has been reported by England teammate Danny Care that he is acting in an almost coach-like role. The New Zealand born hooker is leading and organising meetings within small groups of the player group, ensuring that everyone is 100% on the same page with the roles demanded of themselves and the men around them. It's a 24/7 role for Hartley and the balancing act of club and country may prove too much for one man to handle. It would be in Saints best interest to appoint a temporary captain for the duration of the 2018/19 season, let Hartley focus on his form alone while in club colours and reappoint him when he returns from Japan, hopefully, as a World Cup-winning captain.
The Midlands side is in need of a captain that will not miss chunks of the season through internationals. Consistency in leadership is a must for the next two years if they are to rise again to a top 6 side. Saints' openside Tom Wood is the standout captain for me, he has experience captaining both his club and country and is a devout Northampton man.
Hartley will be 33 by the end of the World Cup, nearing the average retiring age in international rugby and it is likely that it will be his last appearance in an England jersey. With the likes of Jamie George, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tommy Taylor and Tom Dunn all pushing for international spots, hooker is one position in which England find themselves well stocked.