Dylan Hartley has been appointed as Northampton's club captain for this season.
The combative England hooker, 23, has taken over from Bruce Reihana after impressing Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder with his leadership.
Two years ago Hartley was ruled out of England's 2007 World Cup plans after receiving a six-month ban for eye-gouging.
But Mallinder said: "Over the past few years Dylan has matured considerably as a player and as a person and his appointment as captain reflects the hard work he has put in on and off the field.
"As a current international he is one of the senior players at the club. Dylan has taken that position in his stride and has the respect of all the players in the squad.
"He leads by example, is one of our key players and I believe he is ready for the responsibility of taking the team forward over the next few years."
Hartley has won 11 England caps since breaking into the international set-up in 2008 and made his first Test starts in the drawn series with Argentina this summer.
"I was shocked when I was asked. I walked into the office – it was a little bit like Dragon’s Den actually! – and the coaches sat me down and put it to me," said Hartley.
"It is a big role and something that I couldn’t turn down. If I’ve got their backing it means it is for a reason and something I’m looking forward to doing."
Hartley is entering his fifth season at Franklin’s Gardens after making his first-team debut while still a member of the Saints academy in September 2005.
He first captained the team in a European Challenge Cup win at Bristol in December 2008.
Reihana captained Northampton in their 2007-08 promotion campaign back into the Guinness Premiership and to victory in last season's European Challenge Cup.