Hartley could have Lions redemption

Date published: May 19 2017

Dylan Hartley could have a second bite at the British and Irish Lions cherry four years after squandering his last opportunity.

This, after Wales’ Ken Owens suffered an ankle injury in training which has put his place on the tour to New Zealand in doubt.

Owens has been ruled out of his Scarlets’ side’s PRO12 play-ff against Leinster on Friday night and is a major doubt for the final
next Saturday were the Welsh side to go through.

Lions assistant coach Neil Jenkins admitted when he told The Mirror: ”Hopefully, Ken is going to be fine but he is missing a big game for the Scarlets this weekend. It’s rugby at the end of the day. Stuff does happen and players get injured.”

Lions coach Warren Gatland preferred three other hookers to Hartley when he announced his squad last month.

Many felt Hartley deserved to be included after leading England to a memorable Grand Slam last year as well as Six Nations success.

Hartley shot himself in the foot last time out when he was selected for the Lions’ 2013 tour of Australia only to then get sent-off in the
Premiership final and suspended to rule himself out of the trip.

Gatland admitted last month the decision to omit the New Zealand-born forward had been a difficult one to take.

Gatland said: “Dylan is very unlucky he’s not in the squad. He’s done a great job for England since he’s captained the team.”

England coach Eddie Jones has named Hartley as his captain for next month’s Red Rose tour to Argentina, but is at the Lions’ beck and call should they wish to recall the England skipper.

“We’re excited about Dylan being on tour, and he’ll do a great job as captain,” Jones said at the time. “But if the Lions need a player, they’ll tell us, we’ll give them the player, then work out who’s next [up for England].

“That’s how it’ll work. I’m happy to do that. Our job for this period of time is to serve the Lions. Whoever they need we’ll give them.”

The Northampton hooker, meanwhile, has a Champions Cup play-off game against Connacht on Saturday to focus his mind.

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