Dylan Hartley’s poor discipline once again threatens to rule him out of international matches.
The England hooker, 29, faces a disciplinary panel on Wednesday following accusations he head-butted his opposing hooker, Jamie George, in the Aviva Premiership semi-final at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.
The Rugby World Cup is just months away and Northampton Saints captain Dylan Hartley could be suspended for the warm up fixtures against France and Wales.
World Cup winning scrum-half Matt Dawson has said to BBC Radio 5 Live that Hartley’s ban has the potential to affect England’s entire World Cup bid. Referencing Hartley's team mates Dawson said: "He could let them down big style."
Hartley’s discipline has been questioned before and has been charged with eye-gouging and biting before. Hartley has missed an astonishing 50 weeks of his career due to bans and suspensions.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster has warned Hartley before about his discipline and this could be the final straw.
Hartley had to give up his place on the Lions tour to Australia in 2013 due to being suspended and this could be another critical moment in his career as Lancaster looks to reduce his 50 man training Squad to just 31 players.
Tom Youngs looks set to replace Hartley; an established international player Youngs will fit in easily. Despite this, Hartley is one of the crucial leaders in the squad and his ability in set pieces will be sorely missed.
This comes at a difficult time for the England coaches. Star player Manu Tuilagi was dropped from all England squads following his conviction of assaulting a female police officer.
Selectors made the bold decision not to select the overseas based players, Steffon Armitage and Nick Abendanon, last week and they look set to have another difficult decision to make.