England head coach Eddie Jones has hailed “likeable rogue” Dylan Hartley after his decision to appoint the controversial hooker captain was vindicated by a first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2003.
Jones also used his first media appearance since Saturday’s title-clinching 31-21 win in France to predict that his own perfect start was just the beginning of a new era of prolonged success.
The Tasmanian raised eyebrows when he made serial disciplinary offender Hartley his skipper in place of Chris Robshaw in one of his first major decisions after taking the job in December.
But he said: “The great thing about Dylan is he is a bit of a rogue and he is a likeable rogue as he has good people skills, he is not afraid to tell people what they should be doing when they are not doing it. He is not afraid of giving someone a pat on the back and he has done an outstanding job as captain. He will get better, he has done a really good job.”
Hartley is recovering from a head injury that saw him carried from the Stade de France field in the closing stages but Jones is already eager to reconvene and plot the June tour to Australia.
The former Wallabies and Japan coach believes England are well placed to improve further over the next two years but insists it is against non-European opponents that they will truly be judged.
“We have a number of players on the way to being world class and over the next 24 months we will see those players develop and hopefully be part of a consistent winning England side,” he added.
“The ultimate challenge in world rugby is to beat those southern hemisphere teams. Everything we do is geared towards beating those teams. Whether we can do it now we will see in Australia.”
England had already secured a first Six Nations since 2011 before beating France in Paris through tries from scrum-half Danny Care, prop Dan Cole and wing Anthony Watson.
“We need to keep improving the team and we will look at selection, look at the Premiership very closely to see how we can improve selection. To win a Grand Slam is a nice achievement but I think there is more ahead of us so I am more excited by what could happen in the future.”