Dowson says World Cup omission is ‘harsh’ on Hartley

Saints skipper Dylan Hartley
Saints skipper Dylan Hartley

Phil Dowson has made a habit of providing back-up for Dylan Hartley - and he has done it one more time before leaving Saints to join Worcester.

The flanker, one of Northampton’s go-to guys when Hartley has been injured, suspended or on international duty, believes his club captain will come back stronger from his recent setback.

Hartley has been omitted from England’s Rugby World Cup training squad after receiving a four-week ban for headbutting Jamie George in Saints’ Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final to Saracens.

George will replace the Saints star in the international set-up.

And Hartley, who also missed the 2013 Lions tour after receiving a suspension, will now have to rebuild at his club.

But Dowson believes the 29-year-old will have no problem doing that, stressing that he’s done it before and will do it again.

“Dyls is a brilliant bloke and a brilliant captain,” said Dowson.

“I’m not going to spout off about relationships, but it’s been very, very harsh (for him to miss the World Cup).

“But I also know he’s very, very resilient and he’s able to cope with these setbacks. He’ll do the same again.

“He’ll deal with it in his own individual way and he’ll approach next season with the same vigour he approaches every year.

“I’m obviously disappointed for him, but he’s a great bloke and I’ve got so much 
respect for him, not only as a guy, but also his leadership and captaincy.

“I’ve learned a lot from him.”

Dowson, Hartley and Tom Wood have been key men in building the strong spirit that has propelled Saints to silverware during recent seasons.

And Dowson, who will move to Sixways this summer, has hailed Hartley’s role in the culture club.

“You’re always in with a chance of winning trophies, but you want to have laughs along the way,” said the 33-year-old. “The characters help with that.

“I just had a huge amount of laughs and it was a good, fun place to go to work, but it was also hard work.

“The atmosphere and culture has been built around Dylan and everything he’s gone through. He is such a strong character for that club.”