April 13 (Reuters) - A spot in the British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of New Zealand in June is the “ultimate privilege” for a player, according to England hooker Dylan Hartley but he is not sweating over his chances of making the touring party.
England captain Hartley has made 224 appearances for the Northampton Saints and is focused on their game against Saracens on Sunday ahead of Lions head coach Warren Gatland’s squad announcement on Wednesday.
“I think it is the ultimate privilege for any players from the British Isles... It is around the corner, you know it is around the corner,” Hartley told British media.
”It is not something I am overly thinking about or worrying about.
“I am just thinking about week to week.”
The 31-year-old Hartley’s England starting spot has come under threat from Saracens hooker Jamie George, who is yet to start for his country despite making 17 appearances.
“If it’s my job to come off the bench, I’ll do that, I don’t know if I’d make as good an impact as Jamie George, but it’s all about what the team needs,” Hartley said.
Despite leading the country to back-to-back Six Nations titles, the New Zealand-born hooker is eager to achieve more with England after missing the 2015 Rugby World Cup through suspension.
“There are still things I want to do in an England shirt. There is unfinished business there... To be part of that is, in terms of ambition, is where I want to be,” Hartley said.
The Saints are seventh in the English Premiership after two consecutive losses and are fighting to end the season in a top six spot and book their place in the Champions Cup. (Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)