DYLAN HARTLEY is still the England guv’nor — despite being stuck on the bench against Samoa tomorrow.
Boss Eddie Jones left hooker Hartley out of his first XV for the first time in his 22 Tests in charge.
Lions hero Jamie George finally wears the No 2 shirt after winning a world-record 19 caps without starting a Test.
But Jones insists Hartley is ‘axed’ for one week only.
The Aussie said: “Dylan is our captain and he has done a great job. But we have decided to start with Jamie for this game.
“Dylan understands it’s about developing a team for the World Cup. This is an opportunity for the rest of the squad to show they can step up.
“We want to test our ability, if Dylan’s not available, to put a team on the field and have leadership density. So it’s an opportunity for these guys to show it.
“There’s no decision on the World Cup. The only decision we’ve made is that, all things being equal — and he doesn’t have one of those mystical experiences at Northampton, Dylan will be captain for the Six Nations.”
Hartley took his temporary relegation on the chin and vowed to pull his weight as a bench bunny.
He said: “In the 20-odd games I have played under Eddie I sat in front of the room and said, ‘Boys, we all have a role to play — whether you are going home on Tuesday or you are a finisher or a starter’.
“So it would unfair for me to say that for the last two years and not fulfil my role.
“I am not stepping down. I understand what we are doing. We are growing the squad and finding out about ourselves.”
Hartley is one of nine changes to the Red Rose XV that walloped Australia 30-6 last week.
Exeter No 8 Sam Simmonds also makes his first start and centre Alex Lozowski only his second.
Forwards Ellis Genge and Charlie Ewels, plus scrum-half Danny Care also get a run from the off.
Chris Robshaw and George Ford are co-captains — until Hartley comes on.
Jones added: “It’s a great opportunity to develop the leadership of the side.
“It’s a good, even spread of responsibility between Chris and George. It just works well for us in this game.”
Two Lions heroes Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola both get the day off. Farrell also sat out the Test against Argentina a fortnight ago — and got the job as water carrier!