Jon Sleightholme - Dylan is the man who should be given England captaincy

Pictures by Linda Dawson
Pictures by Linda Dawson

There are realistically three candidates for the England captaincy and all were on view on Friday.

It will have made interesting viewing for the watching England coaches Stuart Lancaster and Graham Rowntree and in my view, as I have stated before, Dylan Hartley is their man.

The other two candidates are both worthy contenders, firstly Tom Wood fits the bill in lots of respects.

He is clearly a respected player and a consummate professional but critically lacks leadership experience.

That should not totally rule him out but it is less of a risk to give the job to somebody who has experience of dealing with the extra work load and media commitments that comes with that job.

The second genuine contender is Chris Robshaw. I have been hugely impressed with his leadership of Quins this season and even when they were totally outplayed on Friday night, he was the one player that kept fighting and leading from the front.

The big question mark over Robshaw is will he actually start in the England line up?

He will definitely play a role in the Six Nations and may well start but it would be a massive ask for him to take on the captaincy whilst finding his feet in international rugby.

It would be a risk that Lancaster does not need to take in the short term.

It does not rule him out of one day captaining England but in the short term there is a much more obvious man for the job.

Hartley has led Saints superbly well over the last few seasons.

Jim Mallinder took a risk when he gave the job to the abrasive hooker but what Jim knew was that Dylan had all the DNA needed to do the Saints job and all he required was the opportunity to do so.

There was concern over his hot-headed nature but much of that has been channelled into physicality on the pitch.

And he has matured as a player – and individual as well – he has grasped with both hands the mantle of responsibility of leadership.

He is also, importantly, a shoo-in for the starting position in the number two jersey for England and that is an important fact to consider.

Lancaster needs to look no further – Dylan should be leading England during the forthcoming Six Nations.