Andy Gomarsall: New England skipper Dylan Hartley will bring fear factor back
- Credit: PA
World Cup winner Andy Gomarsall has welcomed the controversial appointment of Dylan Hartley as England’s new skipper and believes the hooker’s presence will unsettle the Red Rose’s opponents.
Hartley was announced as Chris Robshaw’s successor on Monday, but the decision has not been universally approved with the fiery Northampton man having been banned for a total of 54 weeks in the past for gouging, biting and striking.
Gomarsall, who played under skipper Martin Johnson, in England’s 2003 World Cup win, thinks Hartley – banned from last year’s tournament for head-butting – will be a success in the role, provided he retains his on-field discipline.
“The positives outweigh the negatives and his appointment should and will bring out the best in him,” said Gomarsall, who is a director at his family’s business in Bury St Edmunds.
“If you take the aggression away from his game, it would be like telling him he could not throw right-handed anymore.
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“In the line-out he is one of the best throwers in the world, while England miss his ability to be a third prop.
“He will play on the edge, but he will bring back that fear of playing against England.”
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While his indiscretions have left him in hot water, Hartley’s approach to the game should not be changed, according to former Wasps man Gomarsall, who has, however, urged the 66-cap international to remain in the officials’ good books.
“He is a good man who has a lot of respect in the country. Now his challenge is to build that relationship with the referee,” Gomarsall added.
“He is aggressive, just like Martin Johnson was, but Martin had the ability to stay on the right side of the line.
“With 150 TV cameras around the stadium, it’s difficult to get away with anything, so he has got to play on that line.”
The 29-year-old’s first test as captain will be to lead new coach Eddie Jones’ team out in Scotland in their opening RBS 6 Nations fixture, a week on Saturday.
“The front-row is hugely confrontational and aggressive and we missed Dylan at the World Cup. We need that type of aggression, especially going up to Scotland for the Calcutta Cup,” Gomarsall explained.