The unwavering loyalty shown by Eddie Jones to England captain Dylan Hartley is, while in many ways admirable, still quite difficult to fathom.
I’ve nothing particularly against Hartley. Vastly experienced, he’s been a decent enough player over the years and it’s difficult to criticise his leadership record in an England shirt – but even at his best I would say that he is an inferior player to his main rivals at hooker and is currently so palpably struggling for form as to make his continued selection a tad baffling.
Ask yourself this – if Hartley wasn’t captain, could he justify his place in the squad?
Jones knows the answer to this, Hartley knows the answer to this, and so do the other players in the squad.
It seems churlish to question a Head Coach who has presided over 22 wins in his last 23 games in charge and I’m tempted just to say “Eddie knows best”.
But, as Jones keeps saying, the next 12 months will be critical to England’s chances at the 2019 World Cup, so he does need start making the difficult decisions which will enable the team to move on to the next level.
And replacing Hartley as hooker and captain should be first on the list.