London - Dylan Hartley could have a second bite at the British and
Irish Lions cherry four years after squandering his last opportunity.
This, after Wales' Ken Owens suffered an ankle injury in
training which has put his place on the tour to New Zealand in doubt.
Owens has been ruled out of his Scarlets' side's PRO12
play-off against Leinster on Friday night and is a major doubt for the final next Saturday were the Welsh side to go through.
Lions assistant coach Neil Jenkins admitted when he told The
Mirror: ”Hopefully, Ken is going to be fine but he is missing a big game for
the Scarlets this weekend. It’s rugby at the end of the day. Stuff does happen
and players get injured.”
Lions coach Warren Gatland preferred three other hookers to
Hartley when he announced his squad last month.
Many felt Hartley deserved to be included after leading
England to a memorable Grand Slam last year as well as Six Nations success.
Hartley shot himself in the foot last time out when he was
selected for the Lions' 2013 tour of Australia only to then get sent-off in the Premiership final and suspended to rule himself out of the
Gatland admitted last month the decision to omit the New
Zealand-born forward had been a difficult one to take.
Gatland said: “Dylan is very unlucky he’s not in the squad.
He’s done a great job for England since he’s captained the team.”
England coach Eddie Jones has named Hartley as his captain
for next month’s Red Rose tour to Argentina, but is at the Lions' beck and call
should they wish to recall the England skipper.
“We’re excited about Dylan being on tour, and he’ll do a
great job as captain,” Jones said at the time. “But if the Lions need a player,
they’ll tell us, we’ll give them the player, then work out who’s next [up for
“That’s how it’ll work. I’m happy to do that. Our job for
this period of time is to serve the Lions. Whoever they need we’ll give them.”
The Northampton hooker, meanwhile, has a Champions Cup
play-off game against Connacht on Saturday to focus his mind.