England 'forever indebted' to 'foundation captain' Hartley

Dylan Hartley and England boss Eddie Jones
Dylan Hartley and England boss Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones says England will be 'forever indebted' to 'foundation captain' Dylan Hartley.

The Saints hooker has called time on his professional career at the age of 33, following a long-standing knee injury.

Hartley has not been able to play since featuring for his club at Worcester last December.

But he managed to rack up 251 appearances in Northampton colours and 97 for England, captaining his country on 30 occasions.

Hartley was a key man for Jones during his ongoing tenure as national team boss.

The Saints man was named Jones’ new skipper at the start of 2016, and Hartley’s England claimed an historic Grand Slam triumph in the Six Nations just three months later.

They then rounded off a standout first year with a 3-0 whitewash of the Wallabies in Australia.

Hartley, who is England's most-capped hooker and second most-capped player of all time, went on to captain the Red Rose to a defence of their Six Nations title and a series win over Argentina the following year.

It was a spell of continued success which means he retires as one of England’s most-successful ever captains in terms of matches won, boasting an exceptional winning percentage of 85 per cent.

He may have missed out on a place at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan due to his ongoing knee problem, but England head coach Jones insists Hartley’s substantial involvement with the Red Rose during the past 10 years should not be forgotten.

“Dylan has had a significant international career playing for his country having played 97 Tests, and was a tough, enduring character for us,” Jones said.

“He was a foundation captain and we owe him a lot for his contribution to the making of this team.

"We will be forever indebted to him for his dedication and commitment to the team and his love of English rugby.”