Hartley’s sights fixed on Saints success amid Lions skipper talk

London Irish V Saints. 
Dylan Hartley.

London Irish V Saints. Dylan Hartley.

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Dylan Hartley insists his focus is on Saints amid talk of the hooker being handed the Lions captaincy.

Hartley has made his mark as England skipper, steering them to a Grand Slam and an historic series whitewash in Australia during 2016.

He is now the bookies’ favourites to be given the Lions captaincy for their tour of New Zealand next summer.

But Hartley, who is now preparing for the start of the new campaign with Saints, says his thoughts are firmly fixed on success for club and country.

“It (the Lions captaincy) is not something I ever set out to achieve,” he said. “I am just happy where I am at the moment, with my focus on this job.

“It is a job that might come at the end of the season but right now my focus is on my club and my country.

“Most players are conscious of (the Lions tour) and they are hugely excited about it. But break it down: How do you play for your country? You play well for your club.

“How do you play well for your club? You train hard in pre-season, which is now, and you start the season well.

“For me it is all about Northampton, playing well, making sure I hold my hand up, making sure Eddie (Jones) sees me and I’m in good form, ready to play for England.

“It’s a bonus at the end of the season.”