Hartley motivated to answer his critics

Date published: January 26 2016

New England captain Dylan Hartley insists that he has learned from his mistakes and will continue to "play on the edge."

Regarded as a controversial appointment based on his previous disciplinary record – Hartley has 54 weeks worth of bans to his name in his career – the 29-year-old is highly motivated to ensure his time as captain of England is a success.

"I am confident in myself as a player at Test level. I have captained my club for six years and have learned a lot there," Hartley told the BBC.

"I sometimes get it wrong but it has gone well for me at Northampton too. You need to get yourself at a level to be competitive and confrontational. It has gone wrong in the past but it will stay there.

"I have learned from my lessons and it is for me to live with. Now I have to lead by example and answer the critics. I am a motivated person."

Hartley, who recently became a father for the first time, added that his time to reflect after missing the Rugby World Cup had given him renewed perspective when it came to the path of his career.

"I’ve done things and been involved with things in the past that I can’t escape or get away from," he added.

"It’s all there in the press to see but for me I’ve had some time off and I’m keen to get back into this England side.

"Every game I play in I’m aware of perception and managing referees and trying to stay out of trouble, but while playing on the edge and playing a direct and confrontational game."

Despite the rocky road that has brought Hartley to this point, the Northampton hooker revealed that seeing his name alongside the great England captains of the past was a thrill.

“I’m trying to play it down, but it’s amazing to have that next to your name,” Hartley also told the Independent.

“The first time I went to Twickenham was for an U19 training camp and I was wearing a backpack and sandals. I went through security and saw the James Haskells and Tom Crofts in their chinos and blazers and thought: ‘Jeez, you’re a long way from home.’

"Years later, I’m still here. It’s been bumpy, but it’s been fun. Without the setbacks, maybe I wouldn’t be sitting where I am.”