Eddie Jones questions where sport’s true leaders have gone

Eddie Jones insists the shortage of contenders for the England captaincy beyond Dylan Hartley is a symptom of the leadership deficit that exists throughout sport. 
Eddie Jones questions where sport’s true leaders have gone

Hartley is having to prove his fitness as he serves a six-week suspension for striking and will not have played since December 9 by the time France visit Twickenham for next month’s the RBS 6 Nations opener.

The Northampton hooker is expected to be confirmed as skipper for the Grand Slam defence next week, but is viewed by Jones as a “foundation captain” who is highly unlikely to remain at the helm by the time the next World Cup arrives in 2019.

Owen Farrell is favourite to eventually succeed Hartley but the alternatives outside the Saracens playmaker are few, a product of what Jones views as the lack of assertiveness that characterises the younger generation.

“Every team in the world faces this problem. New Zealand are going through it now after losing the likes of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter,” Jones said.

“They would rock up to training and do the right thing. Those that aren’t doing the right thing, they’d be told to do the right thing. Now they haven’t got those guys. Young people today don’t like doing that — they don’t like calling other people out, it’s not how people are educated now. It’s a reality of elite sport now and it’s in every sport. Dylan is very unusual in that respect. He’s a very unusual boy.

“They’re skills we have to teach the players and it’s a process. I don’t see it as being a major problem, but it’s an issue we need to deal with.

“You have to find ways of overcoming it because otherwise you end up with teams that can’t make decisions and we want to be a team – as we showed against Argentina last autumn – that can fix a problem on the field and not look to the grandstand.”

George Ford is a possible future England captain, but Jones has appeared to rule out Maro Itoje as an option, stating “I see him as an important player in the team, I’ll leave it at that”.

The Six Nations 34-man squad yesterday offered no surprises, with Jones staying loyal to those who compiled a 13-Test winning sequence in 2016. A greater challenge than selection facing the Australian, however, is preventing the focus of his players drifting towards the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand that concludes the season.

“Every day there’s a discussion about who wants to be a Lion and people dreaming about becoming a Lion. It’s a massive distraction,” Jones said. “It’s a great attraction for rugby. It’s one of the greatest things in world rugby, a Lions tour. It’s something we’ve got to hold dear. But the players have got to understand it’s a consequence of playing well for England. If they play well for England they’re going to get selected for the Lions. If England win the Six Nations and play good rugby then (Lions head coach) Warren Gatland has to pick our players. They’ll get selected.

“We’ve spoken about it but we’ll need to speak about it again. That’s going to be a constant.”


N Catt (Bath Rugby), J Clifford (Harlequins), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), C Ewels (Bath Rugby), E Genge (Leicester Tigers), J George (Saracens), T Harrison (Northampton Saints), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (Wasps), N Hughes (Wasps), MItoje (Saracens), G Kruis (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), M Mullan (Wasps), K Sinckler (Harlequins), T Taylor (Wasps), M Williams (Leicester Tigers), T Wood (Northampton Saints).


M Brown (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), E Daly (Wasps), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath Rugby), J Joseph (Bath Rugby), A Lozowski (Saracens), J May (Gloucester Rugby), J Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), H Slade (Exeter Chiefs), B Te’o (Worcester Warriors), A Watson (Bath Rugby), M Yarde (Harlequins), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

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