Dylan Hartley is still in the mix to be British & Irish Lions captain, according to coach Warren Gatland.
Hartley will find out on Wednesday how long a suspension he will serve after he was shown a red card in Northampton’s match against Leinster on Friday.
With 54 weeks of suspensions against his name, some have questioned whether he would be a suitable candidate for Lions captain but Gatland says he has some sympathy for the England skipper.
“I don’t think it’s about ruling anyone out – it’s so early to be thinking that far ahead,” Gatland said on Sky Sports. “There are a number of people who will be in contention for a potential captain’s role. But it is about picking the squad first.
“There is a lot of water to go under the bridge before those sort of things are finalised.
“To be fair to Dylan in the last 12 months he has had a great track record and you have to feel for him. Hopefully he will take his punishment and get back for the Six Nations and hope he goes well.”
Gatland was speaking on a visit to the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff and said his choice of captain will come after he has picked his squad for the Lions tour with a number of candidates in the mix for hooker.
Warren Gatland meets patient Jonathan Crawford at the Velindre Cancer Centre (British & Irish Lions)
“Ideally you pick a captain who you think is good enough to start in those Test matches but there are no guarantees — form is paramount and whoever does get selected as captain on tour, their form has to be good enough for them to start,” Gatland continued.
“Hartley has played very well for England but a lot of people have spoken about other hookers — Rory Best and Jamie George who has been going great for Saracens. George is someone who has been putting pressure on Dylan as well.”
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/18274978/dylan-hartley-mix-british-irish-lions-captaincy-warren-gatland
Hartley still in mix for Lions captaincy – Gatland
www.espn.co.uk – RUGBY