No rift with Dylan Hartley, insists British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland

Last Updated: 01/05/13 10:55am

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Dylan Hartley: Was criticised by Warren Gatland in 2011 after Wales scrum-half Richie Rees was banned for 12 weeks for gouging Hartley

Dylan Hartley: Was criticised by Warren Gatland in 2011 after Wales scrum-half Richie Rees was banned for 12 weeks for gouging Hartley

Sky Bet

Lions head coach Warren Gatland insists there is no lingering animosity with England hooker Dylan Hartley following their spat two years ago.

Hartley was a surprise addition to the 37-man Tour squad announced on Tuesday, securing a place ahead of Rory Best who was expected to be included.

Gatland publicly questioned Hartley's temperament in 2011, after Wales scrum-half Richie Rees was banned for 12 weeks for gouging the Northampton front row, but the head coach has insisted the spat is firmly in the past.

"I've got a lot of respect and time for Dylan, despite what people might think," he said.

"I don't want to raise the issue, but I made the comments that I made because of the way in which Dylan was advised to speak about how a player was suspended and that upset me.

"The reaction didn't really fit for me - a tough front row forward and a Kiwi boy brought up in Rotorua.

"If someone grabs you by the eye and you don't have a reaction, yet it's so painful afterwards......

"I said the things I did. Afterwards I went up to him, shook his hand and told him I was a little bit over the top in what I said. He respected that.

"His form has been good recently, but Rory Best was really unlucky."

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