Eddie Jones backs 'influential' Joe Marler amid Sir Clive Woodward criticism
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 23/07/20 7:40pm
England head coach Eddie Jones has backed prop Joe Marler in the wake of criticism from World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, in an exclusive chat with Sky Sports Rugby.
Woodward, who led England to Rugby World Cup glory in Australia back in 2003, this week labelled Marler and Dan Cole as "embarrassing" for their behaviour in a press conference two days prior to the 2019 World Cup final against South Africa in Japan - a final England lost 32-12.
"Honestly, I sat there and it was like Laurel and Hardy," Woodward said. "I'm going: 'I know they're 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.
"South African journalists came up to me after these two had finished larking around after 20 minutes - it wasn't larking around, it was embarrassing - and said: 'well if that's the mood in the England camp we have got half a chance'.
"That said everything to me. I think they got complacent...They got it wrong. I have exchanged curt texts with (England head coach) Eddie (Jones) since because he has heard what I have been saying. They got it wrong."
Speaking exclusively as a guest on a Sky Sports Rugby Podcast special on Thursday, alongside Will Greenwood and James Gemmell, Jones backed Harlequins loosehead-prop Marler as a vital member of the England set-up.
"Well he [Woodward] is a World Cup winner, so he's always got the final say," Jones told Sky Sports.
"Look, could we have prepared better? Yeah, of course we could have. The end result is we didn't play well in the final, so we didn't prepare well.
"I've accepted responsibility for that. We did everything we thought we needed to do, but sometimes there's just something there hiding behind the curtain you don't find. And if it was that easy, we'd never lose a game of rugby.
"We work as hard as we can to find that, and sometimes we're not perfect. That was the case for the final.
"Diversity is quite a popular topic at the moment, and I've always enjoyed teams that are diverse.
"It's important to have diversity not only in your squad but also in your coaching team.
"We've got guys like Joe Marler who is very much an individual guy. He beats to his own drum, we still haven't found what drum it is but we're looking for it.
"He is such an influential player in our team. Because he loves playing for England, he dedicates himself to being the best prop he can be.
"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 in front of people, but he's a very intelligent guy, great family man, great for the younger guys.
"I can remember one of the early training sessions in the  Six Nations, Will Stuart's come into the squad having played 10 games for Bath, still wet round the ears, and nobody told Joe to do it, but, at the end of the session, he's there for 30 minutes with Will going through all the binds.
"He just became like an unofficial mentor for him.
"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 - 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. Will we learn from that? Yes we will, and we'll be better equipped to handle it next time.
"And that's how it generally works in sport."
Marler responded to Woodward's comments himself via Twitter, stating: "Change the record Sir Clive - you should be grateful you can "milk the cow" for another 3 years @CliveWoodward"
The 30-year-old retired from England duty in 2018, before reversing his decision and travelling to the World Cup in Japan.
He was banned for 10 weeks in March for grabbing the genitals of Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones during the Six Nations match at Twickenham.
"What's a maverick? Someone who behaves a little bit differently from the norm," Jones added.
"To me it's always about what they can bring to the team. Whether they can add value to the team.
"There's certain behaviours I think are non-negotiable and certain behaviours that are negotiable.
"When you're looking at a team, there's a certain level of discipline you need. You watch the Last Dance and the one thing Dennis Rodman did was he trained hard. So that was a non-negotiable part of what he did for the Bulls, and that's certainly part of our team.
"How they behave outside of that, we can always allow latitude as long as it doesn't affect the balance of the team.
"That [World Cup final week] was a difficult week for us. We had to be at our absolute best to beat New Zealand, otherwise we don't make the final.
"You climb one mountain, you've got to come down and then you have to get back up again.
"I thought we were very good at coming down, what we weren't quite good at was getting up. And South Africa were right at the top of their game.
"They had a situation where they probably didn't have to be at their best in the semi-final, they were at their best in the final, and we didn't meet that.
"I didn't have the team where they needed to be. Can I learn from it? I'm always learning. I'm 60 now and I'm still learning how to coach rugby."