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Moody backs Hartley to manage anger

Dylan Hartley can beat his "red mist" disciplinary problems to save his England career by seeking help from sports psychologists, according to Lewis Moody.

Former England captain Moody revealed Northampton hooker Hartley has turned to sports psychologists in a bid to curb the temper that has jeopardised his international future.

Hartley's red card and three-match ban for elbowing Matt Smith against Leicester in December took his career suspensions to 50 weeks, adding to bans for eye-gouging, biting, punching and swearing.

Moody cites psychology sessions in 2005 for safeguarding his own international career following his red card for brawling with Alesana Tuilagi in England's 40-3 victory over Samoa.

"I know Dylan has been seeing a psychologist, I did the same in 2005 and it worked wonders for me," Moody told Press Association Sport.

"When you find the red mist descending, you distract yourself.

"How do you do that? For me, I ensured my first move in future would be to look at the referee, because my next action would be decided by him.

"That simple process made sure that I never had another yellow or red card in my career, post-2005.

"The worrying thing for me is that Dylan still keeps having these moments of red mist, and that will mean that teams will pick on him more and more."

Hartley claimed he had no need for sports psychology after his red card in the 2013 Premiership final for swearing at referee Wayne Barnes.

The 28-year-old was able to ride out head coach Stuart Lancaster warning he faced his "last chance" with England after that misdemeanour.

Lancaster selected Hartley in his Six Nations squad this week, shaking off suggestions the 61-cap front-rower's latest red card threatened his Test future.

World Cup winner Moody, nicknamed "Mad Dog" for his frenzied playing style, admitted he had to beat initial scepticism before benefiting from psychology in his own career.

The former Leicester and Bath flanker hopes Hartley's decision to seek outside help is a positive move forward in the gritty hooker's bid to curb his disciplinary wrangles.

"There is a concern over his temperament in games, but that said, Dylan is a very physical, competitive, combative forward who you always want in your team," said Moody, speaking on behalf of Land Rover.

"It's just at what point does Stuart say 'right, your behaviour is now costing the team'.

"It is frustrating to watch and I'm sure it's frustrating to him that it keeps happening, so there's got to be a way for him to deal with his emotion and to be able to control it.

"I'd hate for him to have any more incidents or his England career to be stopped short because of something he does.

"I know Stuart Lancaster and the squad have been working very hard with him, and that he takes it very seriously.

"The hardest thing for me actually was admitting that I needed to see a psychologist.

"I always thought it was my personal weakness that I couldn't deal with my own mental issues.

"There was a level of scepticism about it, but actually I came away realising it's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of you wanting to be better.

"Sometimes you just need one simple distraction, you've got to be able to deal with those emotions very quickly when something gets to you.

"You need to have a trigger that distracts you - all of a sudden you're back calm and cool and can make the right decision

"I was very proud to deal with it, it never stopped me playing the game with the same passion either.

"And hopefully Dylan can deal with it now too."

:: Lewis Moody is an ambassador for Land Rover, the official vehicle partner of Premiership Rugby and a worldwide partner of Rugby World Cup 2015. Keep up to date with the latest Land Rover rugby activity by following @LandRoverRugby on Twitter.


From Belfast Telegraph