Names in the frame
Skysports.com looks at the main contenders for the England captaincy ahead of the autumn internationals.
Last Updated: 26/09/12 6:03pm
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has admitted he still hasn't decided on who will captain the team for the upcoming QBE autumn internationals.
The England chief claims it is too early to appoint his leader for forthcoming Twickenham fixtures against Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. But maybe he simply doesn't know who the best man for the job is yet?
We look at the main contenders for the role...
Chris Robshaw (Age 26, caps 8, Harlequins, odds 1/4)
Harlequins flanker Robshaw is the frontrunner for the position after marshalling England through the 2012 RBS Six Nations campaign and summer tour of South Africa. Under the leadership of Robshaw, England won four of their five matches in the Six Nations, finishing second in the table. The 26-year-old has also played an integral part in Quins' recent success, leading the Londononers to the Aviva Premiership title last season and helping them to four successive wins so far this term. The odds-on favourite and safe pick.
Dylan Hartley (Age 26, caps 42, Northampton, odds 3/1)
Northampton's tenacious hooker did a sterling job as skipper when standing in for Robshaw during England's 14-14 draw with South Africa in Port Elizabeth earlier this year. Lancaster is a keen admirer of the New Zealand-born front-rower, who has racked up 42 caps since making his debut as a 22-year-old against the All Blacks back in 2008. Has all the credentials to succeed as both a skipper and player at the top level.
Tom Wood (Age 25, caps 9, Northampton, odds 12/1)
Another name in the frame for the captaincy is Hartley's Northampton team-mate and fellow forward Wood. The Saints flanker had been Robshaw's main rival for the England captaincy before he was sidelined by a foot injury in January but is now back after a lengthy and painful lay-off. His absence from the team will have an obvious detriment to his chances of claiming the captaincy and simply making the squad, as well as staying fit, will be his immediate priorites.
Dan Cole (Age 25, caps 31, Leicester, odds 25/1)
Bruising Leicester prop Cole has established himself as one of England's leaders in the pack since making his debut against Wales in the 2010 RBS Six Nations. A fearless, no-nonsense tight-head, Cole, who sports a rapidly iconic beard, is a certain contender to lead the team, but maybe in years to come rather than the immediate future.
Tom Palmer(Age 33, caps 40, Wasps, odds 33/1)
Another player with plenty of Test experience who Lancaster could consider for the position is London Wasps lock Palmer. In and out of the England set-up for much of his early career, a stint in France with Parisian giants Stade Francais saw him catch the eye of former boss Martin Johnson and he is now a firm fixture in England's new-look side.
Chris Ashton (Age 25, caps 26, Saracens, odds 50/1)
Very much an outside candidate for the captaincy is prolific winger Ashton. The Sarries flyer is another man inked in on the England team sheet nowadays after scoring 15 tries in his first 26 appearances for his nation. Mike Harrison was the last player to captain England from the wing way back in 1987 and there would be more than a couple of raised eyebrows should Ashton buck the trend against Fiji this autumn.