Eddie Jones says while Joe Marler “likes to play the fool” he is an influential member of the England rugby squad, backing the prop after former coach Clive Woodward described his behaviour as “embarrassing” at the World Cup.
However, Jones told Sky Sports that Marler was simply someone who marched to the beat of his own drum. “He’s such an influential player in our team. Because he loves playing for England, he dedicates himself to being the best prop he can be,” he said.
“I’ve never seen a bloke strength train as hard as him consistently in all my time in rugby. And then he’s got certain idiosyncrasies. He likes to play the fool… but he’s a very intelligent guy, great family man, great for the younger guys.”
Woodward, who coached England to World Cup glory in 2003, had suggested Marler and Cole’s “embarrassing” behaviour were signs that they had become complacent. However, Jones said complacency was not to blame for their defeat in the final.
Eddie's approach to his famous press conferences… 'it's more what I think the team needs' ???
LISTEN: Eddie Jones podcast special ?
— Sky Sports Rugby Union (@SkySportsRugby) July 24, 2020
“You can draw any number of stories out of it – you can look at the players having an ice-cream after training, someone was laughing after training, someone behaved like this at a certain press conference,” Jones added.
“You can draw all those things out but at the end of the day it’s pretty simple: they [South Africa] were at their best, we weren’t. We weren’t good enough to get back up the mountain.”
Outlining his criticism of Marler and Cole, Woodward had told a St Mary’s University Twickenham webinar about his impressions formed at a media conference he attended two days before the final in Yokohama.
“Honestly, I sat there and it was like Laurel and Hardy. I’m just going, I know they are on the bench but this is 48 hours from the World Cup final. It was to me poor and that is me being polite. It was really poor.
“As history turned out, these two players would have a huge, huge role in the game with (Kyle) Sinckler going off so early. So Cole is on really, really early. Marler comes on as they take off Mako Vunipola.
“South African journalists who I knew well came up to me after the press conference after these two had finished larking around after 20 minutes – it wasn’t larking around it was embarrassing – and they said, ‘Well if that is the mood in the England camp we have got half a chance’. That just said everything to me.”
– AAP, additional reporting RugbyPass
"It was like Laurel and Hardy. I know they [Cole and Marler] are on the bench but this is 48 hours from the World Cup final… it wasn't larking around – it was embarrassing"
– Clive Woodward pulled no punches in a recent webinar ?
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 22, 2020
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