Joe Marler has fired back at Clive Woodward on social media following stinging criticism from the 2003 World Cup coach about the preparations of the loosehead and his England teammate Dan Cole for last November’s final defeat to South Africa in Japan.

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In a webinar for St Mary’s University Twickenham, Woodward had outlined his unease over the pre-final media conference antics of the two replacement England props, claiming it was evidence that complacency had crept into Eddie Jones’ camp following their semi-final win over the All Blacks.

Reflecting eight months on from the England build-up to the decider, Woodward claimed the behaviour of Marler and Cole at the team hotel two days before facing the Springboks was embarrassing, leaving the coach-turned-pundit convinced an upset result would materialise in South Africa’s favour.

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“I don’t normally go to the press conferences despite the fact that I was working over there for the Mail and ITV,” explained Woodward in the story carried by RugbyPass.

“But I went to this press conference because I was interviewing Eddie Jones after the main press conference. Eddie and Owen (Farrell) were there and it was the Thursday afternoon, two days before the biggest day of your life, and they were okay. It wasn’t quite as sharp and edgy, there was a bit too much humour for me.

“But then they left and half the press conference left with them. Then they sent up two players. I stayed in the room. I was at the back with my baseball cap on, so no one knew I was there. The two players were Dan Cole and Joe Marler, two guys on the bench, two front rowers.

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“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.”

Marler, though, was quick to refute Woodward’s allegations, soon taking to Twitter on the back of the RugbyPass story. “Change the record Sir Clive – you should be grateful you can ‘milk the cow’ for another three years,” he dismissively wrote.

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