Dylan Hartley focuses on performing for club and country not Lions tour

• England captain not looking as far as Lions tour of New Zealand
• ‘The Lions is a bonus at the end of a good season,’ says Hartley

A year ago Dylan Hartley was doing pre-season work with Northampton wondering if he would play international rugby again having been left out of England’s World Cup squad following a fifth suspension in three years. As he joins the Saints’ training camp in France on Wednesday he is being tipped as a contender to captain the Lions in his native New Zealand next year, having led to the grand slam and a series whitewash in Australia.

Hartley, speaking after modelling England’s new kit which was launched at Twickenham, is reluctant to peer too far into the future after a career in which triumph has too often been followed by a setback. He is looking no further than England’s opening match of their autumn international series against South Africa at Twickenham, opponents they have not beaten for 10 years.

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