England captain Dylan Hartley has signed a new contract with Northampton Saints and has been reappointed as the Premiership side’s skipper.
The 31-year-old, capped 86 times by his country, was having previously held the role for seven years.
The hooker has made 229 appearances for Saints since joining them from Worcester Warriors in 2006.
His old deal had been due to expire at the end of the 2017-18 season.
Hartley captained Saints to Premiership and European Challenge Cup titles in 2014 but, shortly after being banned for a headbutt in 2015, he was replaced by Dickson in the role.
Since leaving his captain’s role, Hartley has led England to successive Six Nations titles under head coach Eddie Jones.
“Dylan has rightly received recognition as a superb captain for club and country,”
“He led the team during a very successful period for us, has the respect of the rest of the squad and coaches alike, and knows what it takes to win silverware.”
Last season, fellow England international Tom Wood skippered the side as Saints finished seventh in England’s top flight.
“When Jim approached me about taking on the captaincy I was surprised,” said Hartley.
“For me the timing is right and it is certainly a challenge I want to take on. I’m very passionate about the Saints and would love to see us competing for trophies.
“We have some valuable experience within the squad that will be driving the team forward this year.”
I think it was inevitable people might be looking beyond next year when his contract ended. If he had decided to end his career with a lucrative move to France no-one could have blamed him.
But he has said in the past he wanted to see out his career at Saints and this new deal is a big vote of confidence in the club.
Hartley, in the past, really has been Northampton Saints through and through and, although he has had his difficulties, he has always retained fierce loyalty of the club, and vice versa.
I don’t think this will have any impact on his England captaincy, but I think what the past two years has underlined is what a good club captain Hartley has been.
He’s a very powerful voice in the squad and there’s no question that, as he has done with England, he sets high standards and expects others to do the same.