Dylan Hartley still has the full support of the England squad despite his six-week ban, says international team-mate Chris Robshaw.
The Northampton Saints hooker and England captain was suspended for striking Leinster flanker Sean O’Brien during their Champions Cup match last week.
Hartley’s ban has led to questions over his suitability to captain England and possibly the British and Irish Lions on their tour of New Zealand next year.
But Robshaw, England captain until Hartley was appointed by new coach Eddie Jones ahead of this year’s Six Nations, told Sky Sports: “We should respect Dylan and give him some space now.
“Dylan has been absolutely fantastic since he has come into the role. Previously when I was captain he was always one of those guys who was very supportive.
“Now he has taken over he has led from the front. He has been instrumental in what we have done. He’s bred that confidence within the side and given the team a good edge. A lot of our success is down to him. We are fully behind him.”