Saints hooker Hartley should ‘seek professional help’, says Quinlan

SEEK HELP - Alan Quinlan believes Saints skipper Dylan Hartley should get professional counselling to address the kind of temperament issues that cost him in the Grand Final defeat to Leicester
SEEK HELP - Alan Quinlan believes Saints skipper Dylan Hartley should get professional counselling to address the kind of temperament issues that cost him in the Grand Final defeat to Leicester
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Former Ireland flanker Alan Quinlan believes Saints hooker Dylan Hartley needs professional help to deal with the temperament issue that has cost him a place on the current British & Irish Lions tour.

And Quinlan says the Franklin’s Gardens skipper should apologise for the actions that led to his red card in the Aviva Premiership Grand Final defeat to Leicester 10 days ago.

Hartley was sent off for calling referee Wayne Barnes a ‘f---ing cheat’ during the defeat to the Tigers and subsequently banned for 11 weeks, ruling him out of the Lions’ trip to Australia this summer.

The consequences of that will have hit home for Hartley this week with his replacement, Rory Best, named in the starting line-up to face Western Force on Wednesday.

Quinlan himself missed a Lions tour in 2009 for gouging Leo Cullen in a Heineken Cup semi-final between Munster and Leinster, and says it left him in shock and contemplating suicide, issues he only dealt with through counselling.

“First, he (Hartley) must seek some help as soon as possible,” Quinlan told the Mail on Sunday.

“He can’t afford to bury himself and hope it goes away. It won’t, neither with the public nor in his head.

“He needs to talk about it and he needs to apologise. I’d recommend sessions with counsellors and psychologists for two reasons.

“He needs to control himself on the pitch and he needs to deal with the demons that struck me.”

And he added: “When I was banned I was in complete shock. I felt terrible for a long period.

“I had depressive tendencies but this brought it all to a head and it had a terrible effect in life, not just in rugby.

“It’s bad enough when injury removes you from the game, even a Lions tour, but to throw away the only chance I was given to be a Lion through my own actions was very difficult to take.

“I blamed myself totally. I’d blown the chance of a lifetime.

“It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and the last thing when I went to bed. That’s if I slept.

“Insomnia made me lie awake thinking about nothing else until it got to the point, in the first couple of weeks after the ban, when I started to contemplate suicide.

“Time seemed to move so slowly it almost came to a standstill.

“I’m not saying Dylan will be as depressed as I became, and I really hope he isn’t, but he will be in a dark place, for sure, and I understand completely why.”

The Lions began their tour on Saturday with a routine 59-8 win over the Barbarians in Hong Kong, and Quinlan believes that now the games have started, Hartley’s pain at missing out on them will be exacerbated.

“I was an abrasive character on the pitch and so is Dylan,’ he said.

“But the person on the pitch is not always the person off it. I don’t know Dylan but I’m told he’s a good guy off it.

“The problem is people’s perception is of someone setting a poor example and always getting into trouble.

“He will find it tough over the next few weeks now the tour has kicked off.

“I was on the mend by the time the 2009 tour began, though I found it hard to watch.

“I’ll find this tour pretty tough as well, which is one of the reasons why I’m working in Australia during the Lions tour.

“Part of the reason is to face up to my personal demons. I need to confront them full-on.”

Hartley, who hasn’t spoken publicly since before the Premiership final, took time out to thank Quinlan for his words via Twitter on Sunday.

The Saints man sent a simple message that read ‘Thank you @AlanQuinlan1’

The Irishman responded, and wrote ‘@DylanHartley no prob take care of yourself. It’s possible to turn a negative into a positive’