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Dylan Hartley will be back ‘stronger than ever’ – Alan Dickens

Hartley will miss the rest of the season, including England’s summer tour to South Africa, on medical advice.

Northampton expect Dylan Hartley to make a full recovery from the concussion that has forced England’s captain to take an extended break from the game.

Hartley will miss the rest of the season, including the summer tour to South Africa, on medical advice and is not due to return until Saints begin preparations for the 2018-19 campaign.

The 32-year-old became symptomatic upon completing a Northampton training session in the days after England had signed off their NatWest 6 Nations campaign against Ireland on March 17, and has not played since.

It is his third significant episode of concussion in a little over two years and although he previously stated another would force him to reconsider his playing future, he declared on social media on Tuesday that he would be back – a sentiment shared by his club.

“It was tough news for Dylan to take, but it was also the sensible decision,” Northampton’s interim head coach Alan Dickens said.

“In terms of what happened in the Ireland game, I don’t know, but there was a delayed concussion. He came back after the Ireland game and trained and then got symptoms.

“When he didn’t get through the return-to-play protocols, he went to see the specialist.

“We need to look after the players and the players also need to look after themselves. He’s taken advice and he’ll be back stronger than ever.

“He still comes into the club but he’s been advised to have a prolonged rest, and that’s what he’s doing.

“We talk about player welfare and the length of the season, so no doubt it will refresh him and he’ll be hungry come September.”

Dickens has also revealed that members of Northampton’s squad were left “dumbfounded” when the news of Rob Horne’s early retirement was broken to them last week.

Horne, the popular Australia centre who was in his first season at Franklin’s Gardens, suffered career-ending nerve damage to his right arm just 13 seconds into the East Midlands derby at Leicester on April 14.

The 28-year-old was knocked unconscious but the true extent of the injury sustained in his first match as Northampton captain only came to light in the ensuing days.

“First and foremost, the club are looking after the best interests of Rob and his family. I’ve seen Rob once and that was on the Sunday after the game at the hospital in Leicester. He was pretty upbeat then,” Dickens said.

“I’ve texted him since to say I’ll follow his lead because he’ll be inundated with well-wishers and text messages.

“When he’s ready to go for a cup of tea, I’ll be there. We need to help him through this transitional stage of his life.

“He came home from hospital on Friday. We were in last Wednesday and it was broken to the squad by Matt Lee, our head physio.

“It was a very sombre atmosphere. A lot of the players were dumbfounded. It was very silent. We’re devastated by what has happened and that Rob has to end his career at the age of 28.”

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