Hartley grateful for another chance

Date published: February 26 2015

Dylan Hartley believes Stuart Lancaster was right to give him another chance despite his latest disciplinary troubles.

The England hooker was sent off against Leicester in December for elbowing Matt Smith, with his three-week ban adding to an already lengthy rap sheet.

However Lancaster showed faith in the Northampton captain, and has been rewarded so far in the Six Nations by Hartley.

And while there were calls for the England coach to drop Hartley in case he picked up another card that cost his side, he feels that his ability in the set-piece and the fundamentals, has earned him a reprieve.

"It was said that Stuart had a perfect opportunity to drop me, but I think I've given him the reason to keep me here in the first two games," Hartley said. 

"I'm not an enforcer. Someone like Billy Vunipola is our enforcer. My set piece is my first and foremost role, and I think that's why Stuart has got me in the team.

"I'm confident in my ability there. I know what I'm good at and I'm happy with that. I know when I get it right I can do the business on the day, so I wasn't worried about being dropped. I don't think anyone on the field wants to get yellow cards.

"There's a fine line and cards seem to find their way to me. I'm well aware of that before I take the field. I understand what the perception of me is. Whenever I can, I change that. But unfortunately it's hard to change. And every now and then I give them something to keep that perception alive."