Hartley refusing to rule out struggling Tigers

Dylan HartleyNorthampton (5/2 Grand Final winner) skipper Dylan Hartley insists it is too early to rule Leicester out of Grand Final contention despite their poor start to the campaign.

The Tigers (4/1 Grand Final winner) were demolished 45-0 by Bath earlier this month and Shane Geraghty’s late penalty on Saturday condemned them to a second straight defeat, as London Irish surprisingly won 22-19 at Welford Road.

After starting the season with two wins, things looked bright for the East Midlands outfit but a number of injuries have made Richard Cockerill’s task extremely tricky and they currently sit eighth in the table.

In contrast the Saints have triumphed in three of their four matches so far this term, leaving the champions second behind Saracens (6/4 favourites Grand Final outright) who are the only team to have maintained an 100 percent record.

Hartley is refusing to get carried away by either his side or the Tigers’ form though, as he believes it is still too early to judge who will be competing for a Grand Final place at the end of the season.

“I don’t believe these games this early on define your season,” the hooker told reporters. “I don’t like people talking about contenders because everyone this early on is a potential contender.

“You can’t write off Leicester just because they’ve lost two games in a row. We’re only four games into what is a 10-month season. It’s disrespectful to say that about teams so, yes, Bath are a good team, but everyone can beat everyone.

“It’s a long season and around about the New Year things sort themselves out and that’s when you can talk about contenders,” he added.

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