Jones claims Itoje can get hard time from refs as England prop Genge reveals 'keyboard warrior' death threats

By John Skilbeck 1 March 2021 7
Jones claims Itoje can get hard time from refs as England prop Genge reveals 'keyboard warrior' death threats

Maro Itoje gave away five penalties in England's 40-24 Six Nations defeat to Wales but head coach Eddie Jones claimed officials can "tend to over-referee a player like him".

Referee Pascal Gauzere faced scrutiny over his decision-making in Saturday's Cardiff clash, a third-round tussle in the Six Nations.

Wales scored two controversial first-half tries, but England's lack of discipline was also the Red Rose's undoing, giving away 14 penalties in total.

Jones related the attention Itoje draws from match officials to that experienced by former Australia forward George Smith.

Speaking about Saracens star Itoje, Jones said: "He is one of the best players in the world and he plays the game on the edge.

"I can remember the same sort of discussion being had about George Smith at one stage. Sometimes the referees tend to over-referee a player like him."

Quoted in several newspapers, Jones said Itoje could find ways to improve, for the benefit of his teams.

"There are areas of the game he needs to tidy up and he knows that," Jones said. "He's a good boy. A good player. There are just a few things in his game he needs to tidy up."

Jones would not want a repeat in England's next scheduled match, the home clash with coronavirus-hit France on March 13.

The apparent depths to which sporting rivalries can sink was underlined on Sunday when England prop Ellis Genge revealed he had received death threats after the Principality Stadium defeat.

Genge was shown on camera not clapping off the Wales team at the end of the match.

Genge wrote on Twitter: "Don't know why I'm not clapping in that tunnel must be deep in thought, utmost respect for the Welsh. As for keyboard warriors sending death threats etc ...."

England Rugby denounced such social media targeting of players, stating: "Respect is a core value of rugby. Yesterday we lost to Wales who deserved their victory.

"Unfortunately some of the reaction on social media to players and the team has not shown the level of respect the rugby community prides itself on.

"We will support our players and team against online abuse and hope true rugby fans will stand with us."

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