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Aviva Premiership
Hartley claims Player of the Month award
ESPNscrum Staff
May 12, 2011
Northampton's Dylan Hartley poses with the Aviva Premiership Player of the Month award for April, May 12, 2011
Hartley poses with the latest Aviva Premiership Player of the Month award © Getty Images
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Northampton's Dylan Hartley has been named the Aviva Premiership Player of the Month for April.

The 25-year-old hooker becomes the latest Saints player to be honoured this week after flanker Tom Wood was named the Aviva Premiership Player of the Year on Tuesday night and he also follows in the footsteps of prop Soane Tonga'uiha, who was named Player of the Month for October last year.

It is no coincidence that Northampton's return to form - they face Leicester in the Premiership semi-finals this weekend - has coincided with the return of their inspirational captain. His performances in the Premiership have largely contributed to him becoming England's first choice hooker and he has also propelled his side to the Heineken Cup final.

"It's a surprise," he said. "I've never won an award in my life! If you look at any individual who wins an award it's on the back of a team performance. This award is the same thing and it's something that could have been awarded to any of the forwards. Recently we've been doing well up front and I'm pleased to have been a part of it."

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder was full of praise for his skipper and insisted he fully deserved the award. "Dylan has led from the front all season and this award is recognition of that," he said. "April was a challenging month for us and we played a lot of games in a short space of time. Throughout that time Dylan's motivation and leadership of the rest of the squad helped us get some good results, and his own performances on the field set a good example for the players to follow."

Rugby World editor Paul Morgan, who chaired the selection panel, commented: "Jim Mallinder's decision for Dylan to retain the captaincy at the start of the season has certainly paid dividends. He's passionate, hugely motivated and has had his best season for Northampton this year. The players and the fans love him and now people outside of Franklin's Gardens are starting to appreciate his world-class ability."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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