Chris Robshaw will not continue as England captain under new head coach Eddie Jones and is set to be replaced by Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley.
The 29-year-old Harlequins flanker was captain throughout Stuart Lancaster’s reign and in 42 of his 43 England caps.
Joe Launchbury of Wasps has been tipped as a future skipper but it is thought Jones wants a more confrontational character to lead the side.
Hartley was dropped from the World Cup after being banned for a head-butt.
However, despite his poor disciplinary record – he has been banned for a total of 54 weeks during his career – the 29-year-old’s total of 66 England caps makes him one of the most experienced players available to Jones heading into the Six Nations, which starts on 6 February.
Hartley, who captained Northampton to the Premiership title in 2014, has been out of action for a number of weeks with concussion.
He will again be absent for Northampton’s European Cup match with Racing Metro on Friday but Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder expects him to return to full fitness soon.
“He’s making progress, he really is coming on now,” Mallinder told BBC 5 live. “He’s beginning to get into training and do a lot more, but until he’s 100% he won’t play.”
Although he is unlikely to continue to lead the side, Robshaw remains firmly on the England radar, but as a blind-side flanker rather than on the open-side, where he has won the vast majority of his 43 caps.
Meanwhile, Jones met with former head coach Stuart Lancaster on Wednesday, and is in the process of finalising his coaching team.