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Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 17:29 UK

Saints confirm Hartley as captain

Dylan Hartley
Hartley has nine caps for England

Northampton Saints have announced that Dylan Hartley will be the club's captain for the coming season.

The 23-year-old hooker is entering his fifth season at Franklin's Gardens and was first given the captain's armband against Bristol in December 2008.

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder told the club's website: "He leads by example and is one of our key players.

"I believe he is ready for the responsibility of taking the team forward over the next few years."

Hartley made his first-team debut while still in the Saints senior academy in September 2005, and has gone on to make 89 appearances and score nine tries.

"Over the past few years Dylan has matured considerably as a player and as a person, and his appointment as captain reflects the hard work he has put in on and off the field," Mallinder continued.

I was shocked when I was asked. It's definitely going to be a great honour

Dylan Hartley

"As a current international he is one of the senior players at the club. Dylan has taken that position in his stride and has the respect of all the players in the squad."

Hartley's most recent appearance was the 2009 European Challenge Cup final victory over Bourgoin, a performance in which he won the man-of-the-match award.

"I was shocked when I was asked. It's definitely going to be a great honour. I think I know what the club is about, what it means to the town and the people of the town," said Hartley.

"I need to keep playing the way I play and there are a lot of senior players that can help me out. The reaction from the squad has been positive.

"We want to carry on from last year, be consistent with our home form, pick up our away form and keep building as a squad. We've got five new boys coming in, pre-season's gone really well and the boys have worked really hard."

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see also
Saints announce Newman departure
09 Jul 09 |  Northampton
Lawes surprised at Saxons call-up
08 Jul 09 |  Northampton

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