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19th Apr 2017

Dylan Hartley may not be perfect but his response to missing out on the Lions was

Fair play

Patrick McCarry

Listen, we all know what Dylan Hartley is capable of.

You don’t have to be Sean O’Brien’s neck, Stephen Ferris’ finger or Rory Best’s throat to know this man often plays a yard over any lines sketched in sand.

The England captain is a fierce competitor but sometimes demons get the better of him.

He was on course for the British & Irish Lions squad until December, when he had one indiscretion too many. O’Brien copped a hellacious clothesline from Hartley.

A lengthy ban followed and though he returned to lead England to a second Six Nations championship in 12 months, the damage appeared to be done.

Hartley did not last beyond the 60th minute in any Six Nations games this year and Eddie Jones often hooked him, for Jamie George, long before that. In the end, Lions coach Warren Gatland selected Rory Best, Ken Owens and George.

On Wednesday afternoon, Lions forwards coach Steve Borthwick told reporters:

“The three we have come we believe give us the right mix of strengths. Jamie’s set piece and his running game, Ken Owens’ form in the Six Nations was tremendous, Rory Best’s competitiveness, his leadership his work at the set piece.

“We believe the three we’ve picked have the mix we need for what we want to do in New Zealand.”

Barring any injuries in the hooking department, Hartley will not feature against his native country this summer. Instead, the 31-year-old will tour Argentina with England.

Hartley showed their were no hard feelings, this afternoon, as he wished Northampton teammate George North and England lock Courtney Lawes the best before focusing on national team duties:

Former England and Lions coach Clive Woodward certainly approved:

Watch out Argentina.

We mean it.

Catch up with this week’s episode of 888Sport Football Friday Live