Hartley 'jumped off the cliff'

Mon, 27 May 2013 15:40
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B&I Lions coach Warren Gatland described discarded hooker Dylan Hartley's brain explosion at the weekend as "jumping off the cliff".

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland described discarded hooker Dylan Hartley's brain explosion at the weekend as "jumping off the cliff".

The Northampton Saints hooker, Hartley, was suspended for 11 weeks for abusing a match official, contrary to Law 10(4)(s) and (m) in the Premiership Final loss (17-37) to Leicester Tigers at Twickenham Stadium at the weekend.

Hartley was accused of calling the referee, Wayne Barnes a "cheat" and was, subsequent to his ban, axed from the Lions tour squad.

Ireland’s Rory Best joined up with the squad and departed for Hong Kong on Monday, where the Lions will face the Barbarians in their opening tour match on Saturday.

"Dylan's a young man who has made an unfortunate error," Gatland said, when he addressed the media before the team's departure on Monday.

"To play the game you have to play on the edge, but unfortunately he's gone to the edge of the cliff and jumped off it. That's the only analogy I can draw."

The Lions mentor said he believes Hartley won't be appealing the ban, adding that he has been "questioning" his original call to name Hartley ahead of Best.

"That decision had been going through my head as well," Gatland said, when asked about the suggestion that Best, who has been capped 67 times with Ireland, should have been selected ahead of Hartley in the original squad.

"I have no problem admitting that post-selection I had that discussion with myself and said 'Did I make the right call?'

"Everything that's been written and people saying how unlucky he's been is 100 per cent correct because I had those doubts initially myself.

"When we made the selection, the debate on hooker took by far the longest on and was he really unlucky.

"As soon as Dylan was ruled out he was the obvious choice, it was not even something we had to talk about.

"Sometimes fate can intervene and a player who was very unlucky to miss out never has a chance to step up and fight for his place.

"It wouldn't surprise me if later on in the tour he's in contention for a Test spot."

Source: Press Association

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