But after a five-month absence, he returned to play for his club side Northampton, and he’s revealed that two-time World Cup winning All Black Ben Franks has provided inspiration to him.
“I’ve got a new mate, Ben Franks and he is 34. He trains better than anyone I’ve ever seen. He finds time in his day to do extras, like extra weight sessions. He does his own warm-up sessions, he carries round his own lunch box and brings in his own food. When he started playing, he didn’t get food, so he had to bring his own and he’s always done that.” Hartley told the England Rugby website.
“I asked him why and he told me he’s scared that if he stops doing the work that his body will shut down, so he works incredibly hard to maintain his ability to play. I see someone like him as a great role model even though he is only a couple of years older than me.”
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Watch: Dylan Hartley speaks to RugbyPass
“If opinion, publicists and writers and column-fillers had their way I’d probably have retired a long time ago, but I am not even quietly motivated, I am openly motivated to keep pushing on, to keep getting better, to keep playing and that’s all I do.”
“(Playing) for England – the ultimate goal is the Rugby World Cup yeah – but for my career I don’t know, keep going. I feel bloody good at the moment”.
However, a concussion-enforced break followed, but Hartley is undeterred and remains determined as ever with the World Cup in his sights.
“The only constructive thing I can do is come back and influence the team in a good way and that’s by being a good pro on and off the field, focusing on my game and trying to be the best at what I do,” he said.
“It [a year to go] adds to the sense of excitement, everything we’ve been working towards is drawing closer.
“There are a lot of big games between now and that first World Cup game but we’ve had a long-term vision of that World Cup and with a year to go you want to be in the mix.”
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