Dylan Hartley has retained the England captaincy and will continue to lead the side in the RBS 6 Nations, head coach Eddie Jones has said.
Speaking at the official launch of the championship, Jones said that Hartley will stay in the role despite serving a six-week suspension for striking Leinster's Sean O'Brien while playing for Northampton Saints in December.
Jones stated: "I haven't actually told him... shall I say now? I'd like to announce Dylan's the captain."
The red card given to Hartley was the third of his career, but Jones said he still has faith in the 30-year-old. He remarked: "I think he's ready. He trained well on Tuesday and has still got a couple of days to go. We're pleased to have him back. It's the continuity of the job."
Hartley himself commented: "I'm here on behalf of the team. The challenge is to use this week as best we can to get the preparation right for a huge first game."
Fans booking corporate hospitality for the England versus Italy match on February 26th may well appreciate why Jones has persisted with Hartley as captain. Under this regime, England have won every match and a second successive Grand Slam will see England break the record of 18 successive wins set by New Zealand last year.
The coach also said James Haskell was in the running to play in the opening match next week against France, but people would have to "wait and see" if he features in the game, having only just come back from a serious toe injury.
While much has been said about Hartley, Jones himself was the centre of attention as he sported a black eye and a large dressing next to it.
Having joked that the players had been using mixed martial arts during training, he admitted that he simply slipped and banged his head against a bathroom cabinet.
The opening weekend will also see Italy play Wales in Rome and Scotland taking on Ireland at Murrayfield.