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30 minutes with… England captain Dylan Hartley

Leading figure: Captain Dylan Hartley models the new England shirt. Photo: Joe Wigdahl Rugby World

England captain Dylan Hartley talks superpowers, sightseeing and superstitions

Sep 5, 2016 10:23 AM EDT

What will be your lasting memories of last season with England?

Very fond memories of a great season, leaving me and the team desperate to achieve more in the England shirt. We’ve only scratched the surface of what we can achieve.

How did you recover?

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I met my family in Sydney, spent a few weeks on my parents’ farm in New Zealand and stopped off in LA for some sunshine. The whole five weeks revolved around family, food and a bit of training to keep me ticking over. I feel well rested and ready for another big season.

Do you prefer to sightsee or sunbathe?

I’m a get-out-and-about type, definitely. I love seeing new things and places and meeting new people. There’s always a time and place for sun-lounging, though.

Double act: Dylan Hartley and Chris Ashton relax in Queenstown during RWC 2011. Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

Who’s the biggest joker you know?

My dear friend Chris Ashton is the funniest man I know. I don’t know what it is or how to explain it but every time I see his face it makes me laugh. He’s a top guy with loads of energy and great to have in a team environment.

Do you have any superstitions?

No, I gave up. I found I had certain things I’d do or eat pre-game but then there were times I’d forget something or the hotel didn’t have the food I’d like, so I became flexible and more relaxed.

What about bad habits?

Not dealing with texts, paperwork or emails straightaway. Then I end up with a stack to do on my day off.

What winds you up?

People on their phone when they could be talking. The art of conversation is dying!

Pool ball: Dylan Hartley prefers a swimming pool to deep water. Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

Do you have any phobias?

It has to be dark, deep water – not seeing or knowing what’s beneath me and then weeds touching my feet. I probably watched Jaws too many times as a kid!

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

James Haskell. He’s another entertaining guy who can make you laugh with his recycled banter and borrowed stories.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

It would have to be teleportation. Travelling would be easier, as would robbing banks!

What’s the silliest thing you’ve bought?

Night-vision goggles. I used them to spy on Chris Ashton as it was a mystery what he did after training.

Children's books: Thomas the Tank Engine is a favourite of Hartley's daughter Rugby World

What was the last book you read?

It’s all baby books now, which suits me fine (he has a daughter Thea, aged one). Thomas the Tank Engine is the most recent. When I’m on tour I find myself listening to all sorts of weird and wonderfully interesting things from TED Talks, though.

What would you do if you weren’t playing rugby?

Something outdoors still. Maybe a tree surgeon. My brother got me an axe for Christmas and I would like to put it to good use.

What does the next year hold for England?

As a squad we haven’t really talked about next season yet, but we won’t want to let slip what we did last season. So we’ll get together in November, put in the work and go again.

How would you like to be remembered after rugby?

As someone who gave his all for club and country.

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Rugby World. For the latest subscription offers, click here.

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