As one door closes, another comes right off its hinges.
England are on their way home after the back-door route to the Four Nations Final was firmly slammed shut. Meanwhile, the squad’s hooker, Josh Hodgson, was showing how to deal with such obstructions by smashing straight through one at an end-of-tour party in a student flat in Dunedin.
An amateur video released on YouTube in New Zealand shows Hodgson, who was dropped for the 16-14 defeat by the Kiwis that effectively ended England’s tournament on Saturday, taking a run at the locked door, splintering it and going straight through it.
The player, who has left his Super League club, Hull KR, to play in Australia with the Canberra Raiders, then appears to celebrate the damage.
The incident is an extra embarrassment to the Rugby League after narrow defeats by Australia and New Zealand sealed another international failure for England.
The England team manager, Jon Roberts, issued an apology, saying: “We were made aware of an incident that occurred last night. It is being dealt with internally with the person involved and he will be disciplined.
“The players were given permission to go out after last night’s [Saturday’s] game. On behalf of the English Rugby League we apologise for the behaviour and have arranged for the repair of the small amount of damage.”
Watch the incident...
Canberra, like several other NRL clubs, have had more than their share of problems from players behaving badly. They issued a statement through their chief executive, Don Furner, saying: “Josh has said he is embarrassed by what he has done and he will be spoken to further when he arrives at team headquarters, because this sort of behaviour is unacceptable at the Raiders.”
The 25-year old Hodgson was left out of the 17 for the game against the Kiwis, after starting against Samoa and Australia. He is not flying home with the majority of his team-mates this week, because he is due to start pre-season training for 2015 with Canberra.
The England coach, Steve McNamara, has been criticised for going into such an important match with only one specialist hooker, the recently-voted Man of Steel as the outstanding player of the season, Daryl Clark.
When Clark was off the field for a breather, England lost much of their momentum with the second-rower, Brett Ferres, filling in at dummy-half.
There was some sheer bad luck involved in the defeat, however, with the goalkicker, Gareth Widdop, twice striking the posts with difficult conversion attempts.
That defeat left England desperately hoping that Samoa could beat Australia by fewer than eight points to open up an unlikely route to the final in Wellington next Saturday for McNamara’s men.
That was a forlorn hope from the moment that Cooper Cronk went over for the first of his two tries in the second minute of the match at Woollongong. Greg Inglis also crossed twice as Australia eased to a 44-18 win, but Samoa were again competitive and the match, like all the others in the tournament so far, was full of enterprising rugby.
After an inauspicious start, when three players were dropped after being involved in a brawl outside a Brisbane night-club, Samoa have produced three invigorating performances. It is no exaggeration to say that, with a little more steadiness, they could have beaten England and New Zealand.
“The way we’ve responded, I think we’ve kept the Four Nations alive,” said the Samoan coach, Matt Parish. “You saw so many Samoan people here today.”
England will have to digest the lessons of their exit, especially the question of whether it is feasible to continue with an Australian-based coach, who has won just one match in nine against the game’s heavyweights.Reuse content