(Reuters) - England head coach Eddie Jones says that while Joe Marler “likes to play the fool” he is an influential member of the squad, backing the prop after former national coach Clive Woodward described his behaviour as “embarrassing” at the World Cup.
Woodward had compared Marler and Dan Cole to comedy duo Laurel and Hardy for their behaviour at a news conference ahead of the final against South Africa, which England lost 32-12.
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 added.
“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 that 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.
“... 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.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherfordpeter.email@example.com