England skipper Dylan Hartley has issued a defiant battle cry after doubts were raised over his career following the announcement he will miss the summer tour to South Africa due to concussion.
The 32-year-old has not played since the final match of the Six Nations in March when he suffered a blow to the head as Ireland beat England to seal the Grand Slam at Twickenham.
It was confirmed on Monday that Hartley was still suffering the effects of that injury and would miss England’s engagement with the Springboks, leading to questions of his enduring value to Eddie Jones’s side.
Together with a picture of him in an England jersey singing the national anthem, Hartley wrote on Instagram: “I see there’s a lot of so-called experts out there in newspapers, pubs and podcasts recommending what I do with my career. Funnily enough, I’m only listening to medical professionals and myself.
“Fortunately/unfortunately for some, I’ll be back next season to help my respective teams push on. Thank you for your support.”
Northampton hooker Hartley was sidelined for a total of 14 weeks following two separate concussions two years ago, the second of which was during the Grand Slam-clinching victory over France when he was knocked out.
England are already without Bath pair Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph for the three-Test series against South Africa, which begins on 9 June, as well as forwards Courtney Lawes and Nathan Hughes.