Stuart Lancaster will talk to Dylan Hartley about discipline

England head coach also believes as many as eight countries could win 2015 Rugby World Cup

Stuart Lancaster has said he will talk to Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley after his latest ban.

The England head coach feels he has to take action after the 28-year-old was suspended for three weeks by the Rugby Football Union for elbowing Leicester Tigers’ Matt Smith.

He knows as much as anyone the importance of on-field discipline. He will have been disappointed in himself to put himself in that position. I will have a conversation with him.

Stuart Lancaster

Hartley has been an integral part of the England senior squad under Lancaster’s leadership, but an 11-week ban in 2013 after being found guilty of verbally abusing a match official in the Aviva Premiership final robbed him of the chance of touring Australia with the British and Irish Lions.

The latest incident could have seen the Saints captain face a longer ban that would have ruled him out of Lancaster’s squad for the Six Nations, which begins when the Red Rose take on Wales in Cardiff on 6 February, while another incident late this season could see Hartley handed a lengthier ban, which could rule him out of selection for England’s summer matches ahead of the Rugby World Cup in September.

“I have not spoken to Dylan,” Lancaster said.

“I did not want to do anything until the disciplinary process was followed through, and obviously he has a ban to serve.

“He knows as much as anyone the importance of on-field discipline.

“He will have been disappointed in himself to put himself in that position.

“I will have a conversation with him.”

With England hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Lancaster’s charges are seen as one of the tournament favourites despite a difficult 2014 campaign.

During the Six Nations, England won the Triple Crown, but their opening round defeat to France ultimately cost them the title.

If you look across the board there are six, seven or eight teams that have the potential to win. That’s what makes it such an exciting tournament this time round.

Stuart Lancaster

Worse was to come in the summer as their tour of New Zealand ended with a 3-0 series defeat to the reigning World Cup champions.

That was followed by November defeats to the All Blacks again and South Africa at Twickenham, but the Red Rose salvaged some pride with wins over Samoa and Australia.

The head coach, who was in Newcastle tonight to unveil World Cup signage on the iconic Tyne Bridge, believes that a number of countries are capable of winning the Webb Ellis trophy when the final takes place at Twickenham in late October.

“Every team is going to strive to win,” he added. “If that’s not your ambition, then there’s something wrong.

“I think the real strength of this World Cup in 2015 is the vast number of teams that can potentially win it.

“Obviously New Zealand are number one in the world and quite rightly so, but if you look across the board there are six, seven or eight teams that have the potential to win.

“That’s what makes it such an exciting tournament this time round.”

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