INTERNATIONALS

Eddie Jones jokingly sinks his teeth into England captain Dylan Hartley ahead of third test

The Six Nations champions face Australia in Sydney seeking a series whitewash following earlier wins in Brisbane and Melbourne

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 June, 2016, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 June, 2016, 11:35am

As only the cheeky Eddie Jones could, the England coach has praised his often suspended captain Dylan Hartley as a relationship builder, except “when he bites people.”

England head into Saturday’s third test in Sydney against Australia with an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

Hartley, a controversial choice to replace Chris Robshaw as captain, has been a key factor in the two wins in Australia and six previous victories in Jones’ eight-game winning streak since taking over as coach last November, which included winning the Six Nations title.

The New Zealand-born Hartley, who moved to England as a teenager, has been suspended for a total of 54 weeks for a range of offences, including eye gouging, head butting, biting, punching, elbowing and abusing an official.

His 11-week suspension for swearing at a referee forced him out of the squad for the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, while he was also left out of last year’s World Cup squad after a four-week ban for head butting.

The Australian-born Jones said he was impressed with Hartley’s leadership in the 23-7 win in the second test in Melbourne last Saturday.

“I thought his captaincy was good, he communicated well with the referee,” Jones said. “He was hard on the players when he needed to be and he let the players go when they needed to.”

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But Jones couldn’t help making a tongue-in-cheek reference to Hartley’s past.

“He’s a knockabout sort of bloke,” Jones said. “He’s a relationship builder. He probably doesn’t build too many relationships when he bites people.

“But he’s the sort of person who gets on well with people, so he’s got a knack of knowing when to speak to the referee, knowing when not to speak to the referee and not being at the referee all the time.”