3 HOOKERS ON CAPTAINCY
There are not many players picked for their captaincy above their playing ability. You don’t have the luxury in rugby of a Mike Brierley – you can’t carry any passengers in rugby. Also, how much does a captain do these days? You have your experts in various areas, and you do the prep in the week, so you don’t need a cerebral captain in rugby. Also, it’s often the coach who points to the corner rather than the captain.
These days coaches also talk about scenario-based games which you have covered off in training. Coaching now is about preparing players for any scenario, so the role of the captain is reduced.
I like Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tommy Taylor, but they are both struggling to string enough games together due to injury. In fact if any of those guys had been showing a string of performances then Dylan Hartley would have been under even more pressure.
You could argue that Mike Haywood – who has played in Saints’ winning run over the last three weeks – has been the best hooker at Northampton for the last three years. He’s probably been loyal to the detriment of his career, because he might have got a few caps by now at another club. He’s an excellent player who’s been in the shadows.
Jones has picked Hartley as his captain, and he’s showing faith in him. You can see why. He didn’t kick off about not being selected for the Lions, he just kept his mouth shut and went and did a job in Argentina.
Sometimes they say the captain’s got to be the best player on the team sheet – and I suppose Dylan isn’t – but he’s on a 95 per cent winning run.
Tom Dunn is doing all right at Bath, apart from headbutting in the scrum. That brought back some old memories, so fair play, he’s a bit old school. This Argentine kiddie (Santiago Socino) that plays for Newcastle is pretty handy, but he’s not English.
In terms of the leadership I have no doubt that players who find the right words at the right time do make a difference in big games – and especially in big moments in big games. It is the ability to recognise what to do at that moment.
Eddie is as good as anybody in the world at deciding what he wants from his leader.
You talk about setting the right attitude, and then pick someone who embodies that. Captaincy is a difficult thing, and a lot comes down to experience.