LONDON (AFP) –
England coach Stuart Lancaster has told banned hooker Dylan Hartley he can forget about resuming his Test career in the cauldron of South Africa if he can’t be trusted on the field.
New Zealand-born Hartley, 26, has not played since receiving an eight-week ban for biting Ireland’s Stephen Ferris in the Six Nations in March when the Northampton front-row won his 39th cap for his adopted country.
Nevertheless, Lancaster included Hartley in his 42-man squad Thursday for next month’s five-match tour of South Africa that includes three Tests against the Springboks — a challenge labelled by England forwards coach Graham Rowntree as one of the most brutal in world rugby.
Hartley, who will be available for the English Premiership final should Northampton beat Harlequins without him in a semi-final on Saturday, can expect his temperament as much as his technique to be subjected to a fierce examination in South Africa.
And with the Springboks boasting one of the world’s leading goal-kickers in Morne Steyn, Lancaster will stress to all his squad just how important it is to maintain their discipline.
“We will be sitting down with Dylan and explaining to him exactly what is required to be an international player,” Lancaster said after naming his squad on Thursday. “We have to be able to trust the players.
“If we can’t trust a player on the field then he won’t be selected. We will have a pretty strong conversation and he has to prove to us he is ready to come back into the Test arena.
“Attitude, energy, emotion and discipline should be a given for an England team now.
“We work very hard on our on-field and off-field discipline. What we will have to reduce is our penalty count. That is not just Dylan.
“We can’t be giving penalties away and being indisciplined on the field, particularly with Morne Steyn who can kick them from anywhere.
“We are confident the messages we are giving the players are being received. We will make sure Dylan gets that message.”
Hartley received a 26-week ban for gouging in 2007 after making contact with the eye areas of two Wasps players including James Haskell, an England team-mate who has also been selected for the South Africa tour.
England play the first Test against the Springboks in Durban on June 9.