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Dylan Hartley feared for England future after World Cup snub

Published 21/01/2016

Dylan Hartley thought he had played his final game for England until being selected in Eddie Jones' squad
Dylan Hartley thought he had played his final game for England until being selected in Eddie Jones' squad

Dylan Hartley feared he had played his last match for England until Eddie Jones named him in his squad for the RBS 6 Nations.

Hartley was destined to be first choice hooker at the World Cup until a four-week suspension for head-butting Saracens' Jamie George resulted in him being jettisoned by the management.

The 29-year-old has a dire disciplinary record that totals 54 weeks of bans accumulated for a range of offences, including biting, gouging and swearing at a referee.

But England's set piece suffered in his absence during the World Cup and he is set to make his first international appearance for 10 months in the RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland on February 6.

"For me missing out on the World Cup...I thought I'd played my last game for England," Hartley told BBC Sport.

"For me just getting back there and the chance to play in the white shirt again at Twickenham…..that's what it means to me - another chance.

"Obviously I'm on eggshells, on tippy toes, because of the new management. I want to impress and make a good account of myself and get in that team."

England are expected to name their captain on Monday with Hartley favourite to succeed Chris Robshaw in the role.

Hartley's combative style is seen as ideal to restore an edge to a pack that lost their way over the last year, but his season has been hampered by concussion, a rib problem and his demotion to second choice hooker at Northampton.

He started last weekend's Champions Cup victory over Glasgow, however, and is expected to feature again against the Scarlets on Saturday.

Hartley insists his only goal is to win a place in the team as he prepares to meet Jones for the first time when he joins up with the squad at their Surrey training base.

"It's a huge change. The thing for me is that I've had no previous experience. I've never met the bloke," Hartley said.

"For me it's a totally new thing. I'm going in to impress, work hard and try to get into the team. Hopefully I'll make some good new relationships there."

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