Hartley happy to forget the past
11:52am Wednesday 5th March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
England hooker Dylan Hartley has revealed the mindset that has enabled him to overcome the latest in a succession of disciplinary setbacks.
Forwards coach Graham Rowntree on Tuesday voiced his pride in the manner that Hartley has recovered from the red card he received in last season's Aviva Premiership final.
The Northampton hooker was sent off for abusing referee Wayne Barnes with the subsequent ban robbing him of his place on the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia and plunging his international future into doubt.
Warned by England head coach Stuart Lancaster that his Test career would not survive another disciplinary implosion, he has responded by cementing his status as a world class player.
"I have been banned four times and I put things into a box and put them away. You should see my storage unit, it's massive!" Hartley said.
"You just get on with things. What else are you supposed to do?"
Hartley has emerged as arguably England's most influential forward, his combination of set piece accuracy, leadership and aggression ensuring he is among the first names on the teamsheet.
Added to his physical gifts is the mental resilience that moved Rowntree to pay tribute.
"I'm proud of way he has bounced back. He's an important figure in this camp. He is showing great leadership," Rowntree said.
"I'm proud of the way he got over the summer, the way he has played since, the way he has led his club, how he is around our group and the humility he has shown.
"He has got over what happened. That's the big story out of this. He has got over it and he has grown and grown."
Hartley will lock horns with Wales' Richard Hibbard in Sunday's RBS 6 Nations title showdown at Twickenham, the player who in his absence went on to become the Lions' first choice hooker in Australia.
"I know what Richard is like off the pitch. He has a family, a business and lovely hair," Hartley said.
"He is a fantastic player and a big hitter with his tackles."
Among Hartley's duties on Sunday will be encouraging tighthead prop David Wilson to last as long as possible against Wales' all-Lions front row.
Wilson made only his second start since December in the 13-10 victory over Ireland on February 22 after recovering from a calf injury and exceeded expectations.
"Davey did really well against (Ireland prop) Cian Healy and I cannot repeat what I was saying into his ear!" Hartley said.
"I could hear him breathing like a beached whale at each scrum!
"He's a great player and has been waiting for his chance and his work rate was really good.
"The tighthead is the cornerstone of your scrum and you have to rally around him."
England name their team to face Wales on Friday morning with Ben Morgan set to replace ankle injury victim Billy Vunipola at number eight.