Ex-England boss Clive Woodward has called for Joe Marler to be clamped down on heavily by his own English team-mates if he is ever selected in the squad again.
The loosehead will appear at a disciplinary hearing in Dublin on Thursday for an alleged infringement of law 9.27 – a player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship – hair pulling or grabbing; spitting at anyone; grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals.
Rather than the focus being on England’s eventual win which clinched the Triple Crown for Eddie Jones’ side, most of the commentary in the aftermath has alternatively focused on the behaviour of 29-year-old Marler who came out of retirement to play at the recent World Cup in Japan before going on to win his 71st cap last weekend.
Woodward believes much change now needs to happen if Marler is ever to win his 72nd cap. Writing in his Sportmail column following the weekend’s round four Guinness Six Nations action, the 2003 World Cup-winning coach suggested it was time that England copied a recent All Blacks policy – no d***heads allowed.
“I pride myself on not copying other teams but I loved the little saying which underpins recent great New Zealand sides, namely ‘no d***heads’,” he wrote.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory. You can be a great player and, yes, you can be a character and different but don’t go around being a distraction and embarrassment to the team, the shirt and the country. I knew England were in big trouble before the World Cup final when Joe Marler started horsing around at a bizarre press conference with Dan Cole.
“That was embarrassing, disrespectful and said much about the team’s mindset. I wouldn’t stand for that and, most importantly, nor should the team.
“We saw it again on Saturday with his ridiculous groping at Alun Wyn Jones’ genitalia. Marler was trending all night on Twitter and perhaps he thinks that’s clever and what life is all about but it will interesting to see how the RFU handle this. I know what I would do.
“I’m a huge admirer of (Ellis) Genge but he needs to be careful as well with his beer-in-hand post-match interviews and dismissal of media critics as sausages. I winced on Saturday when Nick Mullins on commentary referred to him as something of a cult figure.
“Let’s be clear: Genge is a very good young player and has a huge opportunity to be a star but he has achieved nothing yet with England — he’s not even in the starting XV. Be a cult figure by all means but do it by becoming England’s premier loosehead.
“It really is time for the players to take a strong hold on this. I would be looking for Owen Farrell and Itoje to show real leadership now both on and off the pitch and make sure England cut this stuff out.”
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