We take a look at the primary contenders for the England captaincy as Eddie Jones takes charge for his first Six Nations Championship…
Hartley is currently considered the favourite for the role by most of the press, and Jones himself has hinted at the possibility. Whilst there are a number of well known disciplinary issues in Hartley’s history, they have for the most part been for club rather than country. He is now one of England’s most experienced players, and would bring a bit more aggressiveness to the role which is something Jones seems to value, although he could find his age counts against him.
It’s quite rare these days to find an international captain outside of the forwards, however Youngs is one of the few more experienced players in the squad who could do the role. He has experience of captaining his club side Leicester Tigers, and is at the ideal age to captain England through to the World Cup in 2019. One major question however would be whether or not he is an automatic first choice in the starting XV or not.
Another potentially controversial option for some, but Farrell could well prove to be the future for the captaincy. He is a mature player who is now one of England’s more experienced backs and would no doubt bring passion to the rule. Questions may however be raised whether his temperament is right for international captaincy, whilst he also lacks prior experience leading a team. He could however be a long-term option in the role.
Although it looks unlikely that Robshaw will retain the captaincy, he shouldn’t be ruled out completely. Since moving over to blindside for Harlequins this season he has been in sublime form and looks like a strong possibility to fulfill the same role for England. He obviously has the requisite experience having captained England over the last four year cycle, however his age could prove a factor, whilst there is plenty of emerging talent in his position ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
An outside shot at this stage, but at some point it looks likely Itoje could be handed the captaincy. His age is likely to mean he is overlooked at this stage, however if Jones is looking to build for the future then Itoje could well prove to be the central figure for England’s pack. He already has experience of captaining his club side Saracens, and looks to have all the skills necessary to firmly establish himself in the England XV for years to come.