The Northampton Saints Chairman Tony Hewitt has vowed that the club will stand by hooker Dylan Hartley after he was hit with yet another ban.
Hartley was handed a four-week suspension for headbutting Saracens' Jamie George during the Aviva Premiership semi-final between the two sides at the weekend.
It means that the 29-year-old won't be eligible to play in any of England's World Cup warm-up games as well as the tournament opener against Fiji on September 18.
Hartley's latest indiscretion means that he's now missed 54 weeks of his career through suspensions.
Click below to hear from Tony Hewitt
"Dylan does a fantastic amount of work off the pitch with the squad and a number of charitable commitments so he's a very important part of Northampton.
He's been a good servant and we'll continue to look after him."
Northampton Saints star Dylan Hartley's World Cup hopes are hanging in the balance after he was hit with a four-week ban for headbutting an opponent.
The England hooker was cited for the clash with Saracens' Jamie George during last weekend's Aviva Premiership semi-final defeat.
The sanction means that he will now miss all of his country's World Cup warm-up games and won't be eligible to play in England's first World Cup game against Fiji on September 18 - if selected.
Northampton Saints star Dylan Hartley will find out today if he'll be banned for allegedly headbutting an opponent.
The England forward will face an RFU disciplinary panel today.
It relates to an incident involving Jamie George during the Saints' Premiership semi-final defeat to Saracens at the weekend.
A ban would put Hartley's World Cup future in serious doubt after he was previously warned about his future conduct by Head Coach Stuart Lancaster.
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George North has played down the fears over his recovery from concussion.
It comes as Wales boss Warren Gatland said he'd like North to miss the rest of the season, and not play again until the World Cup in September.
The 23-year-old wing, who has suffered four head injuries in the last five months, is focusing his efforts on getting back to health and told The Daily Telegraph of his recovery: "It's looking positive.
I am symptom-free at the moment and going through the return-to-play protocols. I am doing that over a two-week period rather than the normal one week, so that I get plenty of time to recover. I am following the advice of the physios, doing everything that they advise. It is a step-by-step thing and that is what I am doing at the moment.
Northampton forward Christian Day says he's not worried about the Saints' recent dip in form.
The Premiership champions have lost their last two games.
They take on Saracens at a packed out stadium:mk tomorrow.
"We had a similar run of bad form last season and we went on to win two trophies, so we're not panicking really.
We've got a big challenge this weekend, top verses second, and we're looking forward to it."
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Northampton Saints have announced the signing of South African centre Patrick Howard for next season.
The 23-year-old will join from Western Province in the summer.
Howard spent time at Munster earlier this campaign, and has represented South Africa at youth level.
“I really enjoyed my time in Europe earlier this year and was delighted when Saints showed interest in me.
It is a great opportunity for me to be joining a fantastic club and continue to develop as a player.
I cannot wait to pull on the Saints jersey!
I have had a great time coming through the ranks at Western Province, but feel that now is the right time to experience something new overseas.”
Exeter Chiefs have announced that they will sign young Northampton Saints fly-half Will Hooley at the end of the season.
The 21-year-old will pen a two-year deal in the summer, and will compete for the number 10 shirt with Gareth Steenson and Henry Slade.
Hooley has been with Northampton since the age of 12 and has made 14 appearances for the first team.
“I’m really looking forward to the move, I see it as a massive opportunity for me to experience a new club, a new environment and to hopefully be part of something special down at the Chiefs."