Ireland captain Rory Best believes Dylan Hartley ‘could’ still lead the Lions
Hartley took his career suspensions tally to 60 weeks with a six-week ban in December
Best himself is in the running to lead the tourists this summer
Rory Best believes Dylan Hartley’s latest suspension will not ruin the England captain’s chances of leading the Lions in New Zealand this summer.
The combative hooker had lengthy suspensions on his rap-sheet for eye-gouging, biting, punching and elbowing when Eddie Jones named him skipper.
However, with Hartley as captain, England won all of their matches in 2016 to climb from eighth to second in the world rankings, with just New Zealand ahead of them.
Best, who led the men in green to a historic victory against New Zeland, feels Hartley still has plenty of time to state a compelling case for the British and Irish Lions’ captaincy.
“Dylan’s not injured, so he has an opportunity to get a good block of training done without getting beaten up every week in a match situation,” Best said to Sky Sports.
“So from that side of things, when you get to March and the shake-up in the Six Nations for the last two rounds of that, you’d be going a long way to say that his ban from December would be dictating events.”
England kicks off their 2017 Six Nations against France while Ireland begins their campaign with a difficult trip to Scotland, both on February 4th.