Saints skipper Hartley on the road to recovery

Dylan Hartley's most recent game for Saints was at Saracens on January (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Dylan Hartley's most recent game for Saints was at Saracens on January (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Dylan Hartley says he is 'feeling a lot better' and 'can't wait' to be back in action next season.

Hartley was forced to miss the conclusion of the previous campaign due to concussion.

He has not played since England's Six Nations clash with Ireland in March and has not been able to take the field for Saints since the Champions Cup defeat at Saracens in January.

But Hartley is now on the road to recovery and will hope to play a full part in Saints' pre-season campaign, which begins with a game at Ospreys on August 11.

"I'm good and I'm feeling a lot better," Hartley said. "I've taken some good advice from the best people going - my mum probably being at the top of the list.

"But I'm very fortunate to have some good people around me, giving me advice and ultimately, I've got to listen to myself, and how I am feeling as well.

"As soon as the decision was made for me not to be involved for the tail end of the season, it took a lot of pressure off.

"Rest has been the best thing for me. The mental pressure has been taken away by not trying to get back early, not trying to make it back for a tour, for end-of-season games.

"The best advice I got was to stay active, which I have done, but work within a framework.

"I've still got limits that I know I can go to and I'm actually looking forward to pushing the boundaries a little bit and getting the blood pumping."

Hartley was working as a pundit for Sky Sports last Sunday, giving his opinion on England's game against the Barbarians at Twickenham.

And that only made him more hungry to get back in action.

"I've been doing a little bit of commercial work on the side, dipping my toe in and keeping myself busy," Hartley said. "I've not been able to train or play.

"It's been good to see the other side of it, but what happens when you're on that other side is you appreciate your time on the field.

"With any injury, it makes you evaluate your career. But I've got good advice around me and knowing how I feel myself,

"I'm confident I'll be back playing. And I can't wait."

Hartley will miss England's tour of South Africa, which starts with a game in Johannesburg on June 9.

And he said: "I want to be involved with the team and that's the biggest disappointment: not being able to tour with the guys.

"The last time we played was at Twickenham against the Irish and it didn't go well for us. And you want to be part of the resurgence and what will be a successful tour for the team.

"Selfishly, I could have lied to myself and everyone else and said: 'I'll tour', and I could have got on with it but I had to make a hard decision not to.

"It's obviously disappointing but I've got every confidence the team will progress well without me.

"Looking at who's touring, there's a good core of experience there but it's not the same England team. Owen (Farrell) will captain it, and he'll put his own stamp on that.

"Looking at some of the bolters and the young guys that have been taken, it's a great chance for them and for Eddie (Jones) to see them in that environment. If they can add to England Rugby going forward, it's only a good thing.

"It just proves that competition is so hot here, the depth is good, and we're not in that bad a place."