Dylan Hartley: British & Irish Lions call-up would be a 'bonus' for England skipper

Dylan Hartley
Dylan Hartley led England to Six Nations success last month, but their Grand Slam hopes were ended by Ireland

England captain Dylan Hartley says it would be a "bonus" to be selected for the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand this summer.

Hartley, 31, led Eddie Jones' side to the Six Nations championship last month and will finish the Premiership season with club side Northampton.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland names his touring party next week.

"I'm not building myself up for possibly what would be a setback in my eyes," Hartley told BBC Sport.

"So I'm taking it as it comes. I'm happy where I am at the moment. If it comes it is a bonus. If not then I have got other things to play for and other things to look forward to.

"For anyone selected I'm sure it's a great honour and I have been previously selected, so, yes, it is a great honour, but to tour I'm sure is a great experience."

'It's my job to play well'

The immediate focus for the New Zealand-born hooker is guiding Saints at least to a European Champions Cup position in the Premiership.

Northampton are seventh in the table but level on points with Harlequins, in sixth, after losing their last two games.

And Hartley said he would not allow Gatland's imminent announcement to impact on his performance level.

"It's an uncontrollable," he added. "The selectors have got a pretty difficult job.

"What I can control is what I do this weekend against Saracens, every other player is thinking that as well.

"[Representative rugby] is the bonus of playing well off the back of club rugby or for your international side. It's not my job to worry about selection, it's my job to play well."

No extra motivation

Dylan Hartley
Dylan Hartley is a possible Lions call-up alongside England team-mate Owen Farrell (left)

Hartley need only look back to 2013 to recall how much of an honour it was to be selected for a Lions tour, but also to remember the frustration of missing out.

His Premiership final sending off for Northampton that year, made doubly painful by a defeat by East Midlands rivals Leicester at Twickenham, culminated in an 11-week ban which ruled him out of the tour to Australia.

However, he dismissed any talk of additional motivation ahead of the 2017 squad announcement.

"What motivates me is embracing what I'm doing at this stage of my life," added Hartley.

"Playing professional sport for a living is a great thing to say and do, the opportunity I've got for my family to provide and set ourselves up.

"I still enjoy it, I love the environment, whether it's the Saints dressing room or England. When you enjoy your work it's not work.

"Set-backs always refocus me but, ultimately, because I missed out on the Lions in 2013 doesn't motivate me to get up in the morning."

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