New England rugby union captain Dylan Hartley claims to have "learned from his lessons" from his past disciplinary problems. The 29-year-old hooker has been banned for a variety of offences through his career but has insisted he has matured with age and is ready to accept the responsibility that comes with the captaincy.
The New Zealand-born forward has been banned for a total of 54 weeks for gouging, biting and striking. He has, however, been selected by new England coach Eddie Jones to replace Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw as the captain for the Six Nations campaign.
"I am confident in myself as a player at Test level," he told the BBC. "I have captained my club for six years and have learned a lot there. I sometimes get it wrong, but it has gone well for me at [club side] Northampton, too. You need to get yourself at a level to be competitive and confrontational."
Despite his chequered disciplinary record, Hartley is confident of putting those issues to one side and leading England into a new era. Asked if he will get it wrong again, the hooker insisted: "No, of course not. I have learned from my lessons and it is for me to live with. Now I have to lead by example and answer the critics. I am a motivated person."
Hartley said he is determined to play the game in an aggressive manner but to also stick within the limits of the rules. "I'm well aware of the perception and the reputation that comes with it, but I play my best when I'm on the edge," he said. "I just know to not go over the edge."
Hartley's appointment has been greeted by a mixed reaction among fans, but former England captain Will Carling has backed the move. "It is a statement, it is about winning," he said. "Eddie Jones wants a guy who will go out with an edge, not one who is possibly politically correct and safe. Winning at rugby or in sport is not about being safe. That is why I like it. Real leadership is about how you act, commit and show passion."