Rugby - Hartley must earn Lancaster trust

Stuart Lancaster will have to be convinced that he can trust Dylan Hartley before he selects him for England again.

PA Sport
Rugby - Lancaster faces flanker dilemma
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Stuart Lancaster (PA Photos)

Hartley has been banned for 11 weeks after he was sent off for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in Northampton's 37-17 Aviva Premiership final defeat to Leicester. It is the third significant suspension of Hartley's chequered career, following a 26-week ban for eye-gouging and an eight-week penalty for biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris.

"Selection for all players is based on three things: form, fitness and the trust that you have that they can operate in the international arena," Lancaster said after England's 40-12 win against the Barbarians.

"He is no different to anyone else and all that will be taken into account for our next selection. There's competition for places with lads like Rob [Webber], [David] Paice and Rob Buchanan who are all going to push.

"I will pick up conversations with all the players who aren't with us after the tour. I am sure he will be hurting deeply, but that's the way it is: if you transgress, then there's a price to pay."

Hartley received the support of his Northampton team-mates after the final and Lancaster was anxious to highlight the positive influence the 27-year-old has been around the England squad.

That was reflected in the backing Hartley received from forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who provided a character reference at the disciplinary hearing into the Ferris incident.

Hartley went on to captain England in the final Test of their 2012 summer series against South Africa.

Lancaster said: "He has been very good with us, his on-field involvements have been great and he has been great off the field in terms of the leadership.

"He has a price to pay now and I am sure he will suffer for it. All players have to curb your frustrations and channel it in different ways on the field. That's what international rugby is about at the highest level."

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