DURBAN (Reuters) - England back Mike Brown feels criticism of his game is unwarranted and wants more “respect” for his all-round contribution to the team as he targets a place at next year’s World Cup in Japan.
Coach Eddie Jones has picked Brown on the wing on England’s current tour of South Africa, but he has played 58 of his 71 tests at full-back since making his debut in 2007.
He faced criticism during this year’s Six Nations tournament, with some pundits favouring Anthony Watson - absent injured since England’s defeat to Ireland in March - to start in his place.
While Jones has defended the 32-year-old, he also selected Elliot Daly at full-back in South Africa for the first two tests.
However, Brown’s move to the number 11 jersey has paid dividends to a certain extent with tries in both of the defeats against the Springboks, in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.
“I’ve come in for a bit of criticism but I’m on 71 caps now – it would be nice to get a little bit of respect sometimes,” Brown told SkySports on Tuesday.
“I’ve played wing, full-back – I’m the most capped full-back in English rugby.
“It would be nice for people to see some of the unseen work I do apart from scoring tries... I love playing for England and with these guys and I will keep working hard on this journey to the World Cup and hopefully I will be there.”
Along with prop Joe Marler, Brown was involved in a verbal spat with an England fan after the 23-12 loss to the Boks in Bloemfontein on Saturday, but has defended his actions.
“Some supporter decided to lean over and give (Marler) ...some abuse,” he said.
“When a guy who you think should be supporting you is saying you aren’t trying your best – and that is putting it nicely – I just told him to shut up basically.
“We try day-in-day-out to get better and we are out there trying our best and if somebody is telling you are not then they are way off the mark. We stick up for ourselves.”
England play the final test of their tour in Cape Town on Saturday, hoping to avoid a 3-0 whitewash against a Bok side that has improved as the series has gone on.
“It is frustrating that we haven’t managed to get the wins that we are working hard towards,” Brown said. “We have shown in patches what we can do but then we have knocked off in other areas at crucial times.”
Reporting By Nick Said; editing by John Stonestreet