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England's Brown tips Hartley to lead Lions

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/08/2016

England fullback Mike Brown has thrown his weight behind Kiwi-born Dylan Hartley to captain the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand next summer.

Brown has tipped his England skipper to lead the Lions in the Test series against the All Blacks, in a squad he feels could boast a number of Eddie Jones' men.

Former Japan coach Jones led England to a debut Test series win in Australia in June, with Hartley since installed as the early bookies' favourite for the Lions armband next summer.

"Of course I'd back Dylan to lead the Lions," Brown told Press Association Sport.

Wales captain Sam Warburton will doubtless be among the front-runners to lead the Lions next summer, but Brown believes Hartley's stewardship of England merits close consideration.

Hartley missed the 2013 Lions tour after being hit with a ban for his red card for abusing referee Wayne Barnes in that year's Premiership final.

The combative Northampton hooker was then dropped from England's 2015 World Cup squad following a four-week ban for headbutting Saracens' Jamie George.

Hartley has spent more than a year of his career sidelined through suspensions, but has turned his Test situation on its head since being appointed captain under Jones.

Brown believes Hartley's fuss-free approach proved pivotal to England's Test series whitewash victory over Australia, and backed the 30-year-old to keep on growing into the role.

"He's a good leader in his actions and also in his words.

"He's brought this group of players together really well.

"He seems to work well with Eddie as well, so it's going well."

Hartley was born and raised in Rotorua but moved to England in 2002, before rising through the ranks there.

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