Dylan Hartley thinks a Lions call-up is the ultimate honour for any British and Irish player but he does not feel it will define his career if he fails to make a tour.

The England captain has yet to tour with the Lions. He was selected four years ago but an 11-week ban for swearing at referee Wayne Barnes and calling him a "cheat" saw him miss the trip to Australia.

Warren Gatland is set to name his squad for the tour of New Zealand in the summer and Hartley would love to be in the squad.

Aged 31, it might be Hartley's final chance to fulfil the ambition but he insists it is not the be-all and end-all for him.

"I think it's the ultimate privilege for any players from the Isles but it's not something that I'm overly thinking about or worrying about," said Hartley ahead of Northampton Saints' Premiership clash with Saracens on Saturday.

"I'm not counting my chickens or getting my hopes up because in a week's time it could all be taken away"

"I'm just enjoying the game and the other stuff is uncontrollable. I can't comment on it, I don't know what's happening. Either way I am going to be in a good place and I'll embrace wherever I am this summer.

"To go would be one hell of an experience, I'm sure, from what I've heard of previous tours. For the guys that do make the tour it will be the trip of a lifetime, I'm sure. I'm not counting my chickens or getting my hopes up because in a week's time it could all be taken away.

"If it happens it's a bonus and if it doesn't then I have other things I can focus on and look forward to."

Asked if being able to say he toured with the Lions would define his career, Hartley said: "No, maybe for you guys (journalists) writing about it.

"But for me there's still things I want to do in an England shirt and there's unfinished business there with the development of the team and where that's going and to be part of that in terms of ambition is where I want to be.

"The Lions is just a bonus. The Six Nations has been played and however my form was that's been done and all I can do is play well this weekend for Saints and see what happens next week."