Dylan Hartley has emerged as a doubt for England’s three-Test tour of South Africa in June because of concussion symptoms he is experiencing since the loss to Ireland at Twickenham in March.
Hartley has not played any minutes since England finished fifth in the Six Nations and Northampton coach Alan Dickens, admitted it is a concern.
“Dylan reported concussion symptoms after the Ireland game so it’s one of those – he’ll go through the return-to-play protocols,” Dickens told The Guardian. “In terms of the focus on concussion now, it’s a concern for all the players. That’s why they’re so stringent in terms of the process to return to play. We’ll do what’s right by Dylan.”
The 32-year-old has been showing symptoms of concussion since the 17th March and it is an added concern considering he has had similar issues in the past. In the summer of 2016, Hartley said that any further head injuries would make him consider his playing future. During the 2015/16 season, Hartley missed 14 weeks of the campaign due to concussion and says he doesn’t remember lifting the Six Nations trophy in Paris where England won the Grand Slam.
“If I got another one now I would be worried. I would probably start looking at other careers or stuff like that, or maybe a long lay-off. Maybe I [need to] look at my tackling technique, too,” Hartley said in 2016.
The Saints have three games left in their season which is fading out quickly considering they won’t qualify for the Champions Cup.
Hartley has yet to progress through the return-to-play protocols so it remains to be seen whether he will be involved for the June tour to South Africa against Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks.