England rugby captain Dylan Hartley has opened up on his poor disciplinary record and what motivates him to keep playing as long as possible.

Rotorua-born Hartley was a contentious omission from the British and Irish Lions team in New Zealand recently. He watched the deciding third test, which ended in a 15-15 draw and when asked if by English broadcaster Clare Balding if he was "roaring for the Lions" a coy Hartley replied: "I was enjoying the game".

"I've got friends in the team and I wanted the boys to do well," he said.

He said not being part of the Lions squad "motivates me to get up every morning and keep working".

Advertisement

"Every week I'm playing against someone experienced, quite gnarly, in the same position as me vying for my spot. Then there's young guys hugely competitive chasing me down.

"I'm in a privileged position to do what I do. I love it and want to keep doing it as long as possible."

Hartley, made England captain by their current coach, Australian Eddie Jones, has been banned for a total of 60 weeks, highlighting his reputation as a dirty player. It adds up to having missed an entire year of his career spent on the sidelines.

Among his bans was one of 26 weeks in 2007 for eye gouging current England teammate James Haskell and another Wasps player; another for 11 weeks for abusing referee Wayne Barnes, which cost him a Lions tour of Australia in 2013; and a four-week ban in 20125 for headbutting hooking rival Jamie George which led to him being ruled out of that year's World Cup.

"There's a mixture of things there I'm not all proud of, but some things I'd like to contest some day. But I don't think I'd change it.

"It's not something I'm overly proud of carrying but I don't think I would be the competitor, the person, I am [without that]. You mature over time as well. I wouldn't be sat here if those things hadn't happened to me."