Dylan Hartley signs new deal with Northampton

 

England hooker Dylan Hartley has signed
a new deal to keep him with Northampton until at least 2015.

The 25-year-old has been with Saints since arriving from Worcester in 2005 and has led them with aplomb since 2009, guiding them to consecutive appearances in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals as well as last season's Heineken Cup final.

Hartley said: "I'm delighted and very happy to be staying at the Saints. I've played all my professional rugby here, the club's a big part of my life and I'm happy to continue that."

Hartley has made 144 appearances for the Franklin's Gardens outfit, scoring 15 tries, and the increasing maturity he has showed has also seen him establish himself as an England regular.

The New Zealand-born forward has won 34 caps and started every game of England's Six Nations title success earlier this year, although the now-retired Steve Thompson was Martin Johnson's first choice during the Red Rose's awful World Cup campaign.

And with another three seasons lying ahead of him in the east Midlands, Hartley is keen to build on the success he has already experienced with Jim Mallinder's side.

He said: "I've got a lot of ambition for myself and for the team and want to keep cracking on and I know that I need to keep improving as a player as we've got several good hookers at the club who all want to be playing first team rugby and are knocking on the door.

"The Heineken Cup run last year is an obvious highlight of my time here so far, and Division One was good fun, too.

"But my whole time here has been a great experience and a learning curve. I've grown up here and it's a home away from home."

Hartley has followed the example of England team-mate Ben Foden in putting pen to paper on a new deal, and rugby director Mallinder believes there is plenty more to come from his skipper.

"Even though he is just 25 years old Dylan is one of our senior players, and we're now just starting to see him grow into his position as captain," he said.

"He leads the team from the front and never takes a backward step. He is very motivated to make the team succeed and bring the best out of the other players in the squad.

"He is also determined to keep improving as a player. Twenty-five is still young for a front rower, and while Dylan is established in the Premiership and at international level there is plenty for him to learn.

"So we think the best is yet to come from him, and we're delighted that he will be getting better as part of the Saints squad over the next three years."

PA

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