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Dylan Hartley suspension talking points

England captain Dylan Hartley has been banned for six weeks for striking.

Here Press Association Sport examines five talking points arising from the suspension.


Six weeks is just about the lowest ban England could realistically have hoped for and the sanction means Hartley is available to lead the champions into the RBS 6 Nations. He will surely do with a warning from Eddie Jones to curb his more brutish tendencies.


Once again it is Northampton who are the biggest losers. Having missed five weeks this season because of a back injury and a month for the autumn internationals, they are now losing a senior player and former skipper for another extended period. Saints are in crisis at the moment and this has only added to their woes.


Unlikely. Jones will remind him that another transgression could prove costly, but Hartley has been too influential in England's success under the Australian for one of the game's great pragmatists to hold himself to fortune by issuing a 'one more strike and you're out' warning.


On form a strong case could be argued that Hartley is not England's best hooker - Jamie George offers more around the pitch - but his leadership on and off the field have been outstanding and instrumental to the post-World Cup revival celebrated at Twickenham. For all the self-destructive disciplinary lapses and the fear he is one implosion away from an acrimonious end to his international career, he is needed.


The biggest challenge facing Hartley now is how he will develop his match fitness during a six-week break from play that offers no chance for game time before the Six Nations as England depart for a training camp in Portugal at the end of January. In the past he has been able to acclimatise to Test rugby immediately after a lengthy break, but his conditioning has always suffered as a result.


From Belfast Telegraph