Dylan Hartley: I'll prove my worth in Aviva Premiership final
Last Updated: 23/05/13 5:28pm
Dylan Hartley: Gunning for Leicester in Saturday's Aviva Premiership final
Dylan Hartley says he is not going on the Lions tour just to make up the numbers and will prove his worth in Saturday's Aviva Premiership final.
The Northampton skipper was selected as one of three hookers by head coach Warren Gatland and will lock horns with England and Lions rival Tom Youngs at Twickenham.
Hartley lost his England starting place to Youngs this season but he is not prepared to be written off as anyone's understudy.
"I think a few people think I am in the Lions squad to cover the third hooker place (behind Youngs and Richard Hibbard)," Hartley said.
"I see this weekend as a chance to push myself forward. I am going there to win a trophy for the club but it is an opportunity to play well and put my hand up.
"With rugby you understand that injuries happen and selections don't always go your way but you have to bide your time.
"Like Arnie said 'I'll be back'. I am not done. Everyone has their time in the sun and I am here for the long game."
Hartley has lost four Premiership semi-finals with Northampton and the 2011 Heineken Cup final, and he is determined to avoid further disappointment against Leicester.
" The prospect of going to Twickenham with your mates, playing in front of 85,000 and winning a trophy at the end is huge," he said.
"I just don't want this weekend to be another one of those heartbreak games."
Northampton had not beaten any of the top three - Saracens, Leicester or Harlequins - but righted that wrong with an impressive 27-13 win at Sarries in their semi-final clahs.
"No-one was giving us a chance. They were top seeds, they had justified their top four position and we had limped in," said Hartley
"What we did well were all the givens you need to succeed in knockout rugby - enthusiasm, intensity and playing for a full 80 minutes and we backed it up with an appropriate game plan.
"We proved a few people wrong. We have to do that again."