Saints hooker Hartley has sights firmly fixed on Saracens clash

Dylan Hartley has started Saints' past two games (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Dylan Hartley has started Saints' past two games (picture: Sharon Lucey)

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Dylan Hartley is happy to put his British & Irish Lions hopes on the back-burner as he bids to help Saints slay Saracens on Sunday.

Hartley could be named in Warren Gatland’s Lions squad to tour New Zealand this summer next Wednesday (April 19).

But the England captain’s immediate focus will be on this weekend’s fixture at Stadium MK.

Saints are currently seventh in the Aviva Premiership standings, having suffered last-gasp heartache at the hands of Wasps last weekend.

And Hartley, who has started both games since returning from Six Nations duty, said: “The Lions is just a bonus.

“The Six Nations has been played and however my form was that’s been done and all I can do is play well this weekend for Saints and see what happens next week.”

At the age of 31, it might be the hooker’s final chance to fulfil the ambition of representing the Lions, but he insists it is not the be-all and end-all for him.

“I think it’s the ultimate privilege for any players from the (British) Isles but it’s not something that I’m overly thinking about or worrying about,” said Hartley.

“I’m just enjoying the game and the other stuff is uncontrollable. I can’t comment on it, I don’t know what’s happening.

“Either way I am going to be in a good place and I’ll embrace wherever I am this summer.

“To go (on the Lions tour) would be one hell of an experience, I’m sure, from what I’ve heard of previous tours.

“For the guys that do make the tour it will be the trip of a lifetime, I’m sure.

“I’m not counting my chickens or getting my hopes up because in a week’s time it could all be taken away.

“If it happens it’s a bonus and if it doesn’t then I have other things I can focus on and look forward to.”