Greenwood expects Hartley to miss Six Nations opener


Will Greenwood thinks England will be "very lucky" if Dylan Hartley is available for their Six Nations opener against France following his latest act of indiscipline.

The England captain was shown a red card for striking Sean O'Brien on the head with a swinging arm after coming off the bench in Northampton Saints' European Champions Cup defeat to Leinster on Friday.

Hartley has stayed out of trouble since being named captain of his country by Eddie Jones, but could face a lengthy ban due to the long list of offences he has been guilty of in a chequered career.

England's World-Cup winner Greenwood would be surprised if the hooker is able to lead out his country when they start the defence of their Six Nations title against Les Bleus on February 4, but does not expect him to be stripped of the captaincy.

"Within the England camp in the Eddie Jones era, Dylan Hartley has barely put a foot wrong," Greenwood told Sky Sports. 

"With that, I suspect that if Dylan's ban is of sufficient length that allows him to get some game time before the Six Nations, then Jones is likely to say that, when he is with me, he does not go over that line and he is my leader.

"You then wonder how long he is going to get. Entry level is usually six weeks, reduced to three weeks for good behaviour - that is clearly not going to happen with Dylan.

"So eight weeks from now we have England v France and I think England will be very lucky to have him available."

Ex-Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris said Hartley may have cost himself the chance of captaining the British and Irish Lions on the tour of New Zealand in his country of his birth next year.

"It just depends on how many weeks he is going to get. With his track record he is obviously not going to get an entry level ban for good behaviour." he said.

"The amount of press there has been on high tackles and head shots means that he could get 10-12 weeks. You just don't know. If he is not going to play for England then how is he going to captain the Lions?"