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'They're obviously quite sad and have nothing else better to do'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Ellis Genge has shrugged off the controversy that arose last year following the defeat for England by Wales in Cardiff. The two countries are poised to renew their fierce rivalry next Saturday at Twickenham in round three of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations and the loosehead has played down the online abuse he was subjected to twelve months ago in the aftermath of the 40-24 loss.  

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Death threats were even issued against Genge after a video emerged of the prop standing motionless instead of clapping Wales down the tunnel at the Principality Stadium. An avalanche of vicious criticism came down on him and it resulted in the RFU having to issue a statement defending Genge and his teammates. 

The England vice-captain is now set to battle the Welsh again and he has no time for the keyboard warriors who feel the need to say things about him. “You get grief after every rugby game,” explained Genge, dismissively. 

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“If I sat here and picked out every message I ever got from people I’d be here all day. You just take it with a pinch of salt. I am sure these people have got some tough things going on at home. They are obviously quite sad and have got nothing else better to do than give a Knowle Wester some stick. Good on them.”

Genge was the focus of midweek negativity from Wales, their tighthead Tomas Francis accusing the England forward of regularly indulging in on-field mind games. “I don’t know. I don’t say much,” he deflected. 

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Genge’s coolness regarding what people have to say also extended to the commentary that Manu Tuilagi is effectively just a big lump who can only ever run straight at opposition defences. “I tend not to listen to what other people say because it is total s***. People just make up random facts like Manu can only run in a straight line but then you watch that clip when they played against New Zealand in 2014, he runs up the wing and gases everyone. 

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“Aside from being a world-class player, he is also a world-class teammate. He is also someone you think just because of his genetics he is so blessed that he doesn’t do graft off the pitch but he is relentless with his recovery. He is first in the ice baths, last out of the sauna, all that sort of stuff. For his off-field stuff, he is very diligent and it’s good for people coming through to see someone who is naturally gifted still do all the stuff that people don’t usually want to do.”

Genge also gave kudos at a midweek England media briefing to Courtney Lawes, another talisman who is back in the selection mix after missing the opening two Six Nations games through injury. “He is class. Again, he is one of these characters who is completely himself, totally himself. 

“Turns up a minute before every meeting which puts everyone at ease because if he is late we ain’t got to worry about being late. But yeah, he is never actually late he just turns up last second. He is just so laid back, puts everyone in a chilled mood and for some of the intense characters we have got around the squad it is really good to have someone at the forefront of the ship that puts you at ease.”

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