Northampton Saints have confirmed that England skipper Dylan Hartley has penned a new deal with the Aviva Premiership club.
After starting his professional rugby career with Worcester Warriors in 2005, the 31-year-old shifted to Northampton in 2006 and has racked up 229 appearances for the club since then.
Hartley also captained the Franklin Garden's outfit between 2009 and 2015 during which the club won Aviva Premiership, European Rugby Challenge Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup title.
The 6ft 1in hooker was approached for captaincy once again and Hartley said it was an easy decision to extend contract and also take over the reins.
"It was an easy decision to commit my long-term playing future to Northampton Saints.
"After completing my 11th year at Franklin's Gardens last season I was delighted when the club suggested extending my time here. I'm very proud to be offered an opportunity to continue playing and being part of such a great club.
"When Jim (Mallinder, director of rugby) approached me about taking on the captaincy I was surprised. For me the timing is right and it is certainly a challenge I want to take on. I'm very passionate about the Saints and would love to see us competing for trophies. We have some valuable experience within the squad that will be driving the team forward this year.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Woody (Tom Wood) for the way he led the team last season. He plays with his heart on his sleeve and body on the line and he did a fine job in what was a frustrating season for us. His support to me will be invaluable, as will his presence on the field."
Meanwhile, Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder heaped praise on Hartley and his contribution to the club.
"Dylan has rightly received recognition as a superb captain for club and country. He led the team during a very successful period for us, has the respect of the rest of the squad and coaches alike, and knows what it takes to win silverware.
"We're also delighted that he has signed a new contract to stay at Franklin's Gardens. Dylan has been one of the best hookers in Europe for several years and is hugely committed to the Saints."