Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley has let the club down after receiving a six-week ban after being sent off against Leinster.
That was the word from Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder who is dismayed that Hartley struck Leinster flanker Sean O’Brien with a swinging arm in the 58th minute of their Champions Cup match which the Irish province won 37-10 at Franklin’s Gardens last Friday.
“Dylan’s letting the team down,” Mallinder told the BBC.
“He let the team down at the weekend. Any time you have a sending off and it’s a disciplinary matter, you’re letting the team down. Dylan has had a lot of criticism. I can’t say I’m not frustrated about it because clearly I am. The team lost a player at 50-odd minutes when we thought we were in the game.
“We’ve also lost him for the next few weeks when Mike Heywood really needs a rest. The team is struggling a bit and we need some leadership from our senior players and we’ve lost that over the next few weeks. We’re frustrated about that, but Dylan Hartley is part of Northampton Saints. We’ve supported each over the last 10 years and will continue to do so.”
Hartley received his marching orders after just six minutes on the pitch, having come on as a second-half replacement for Mikey Haywood.
By the time the England captain completes his six-week ban, he would have spent 60 weeks on the sidelines due to suspensions. This is due to various offences including biting, gouging and butting.