Dylan Hartley was part of England’s tour of Argentina this summer

England captain Dylan Hartley says Northampton’s 55-24 Premiership defeat by Saracens was “humbling”, but will not “derail” their campaign.

Saints trailed 41-3 at the break at Twickenham and went on to concede nine tries in all in their season-opener.

“There were a lot of people writing us off before this tournament and a lot of people’s prophecies were confirmed today,” Hartley told BBC Northampton.

“But we will stay together, keep our heads down and keep working.”

The hooker added: “We lost and we didn’t lose in a good manner. We were poor. They seemed to win all the 50-50s and scored points every time they turned the ball over.”

Hartley, 31, signed a new deal at Franklin’s Gardens in July and was reappointed skipper, after losing the role to Lee Dickson in 2015.

Jim Mallinder’s Northampton finished seventh in the top flight last season, 14 points adrift of the play-off places.

“It’s a very grounding and humbling experience. Pre-season was going really well and we’ve had a bit of a shock today,” Hartley said.

“I’ve been in this game long enough to know that one game doesn’t define you, and I’m not going to let this derail our season.”


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