DURBAN - With the series lost before the final game in Cape Town, the pressure on the England camp has grown following back-to-back defeats. Eddie Jones has felt the pinch, and has defended himself through it all, but that pressure is starting to shift to the players.
Mike Brown, England’s veteran fullback who has, for the past two games, started on the wing against South Africa, has explained his altercation with an English fan in Bloemfontein, stating that he believes he deserves more respect. Brown has scored two tries in two games, yet his selection on the wing has been roundly questioned by pundits and fans alike.
The Harlequins man and teammate Joe Marler had to defend themselves from verbal attacks from the fans at the end of the last game, prompting Brown to set the record straight. Brown explained that when an English fan is: “screaming obscenities and saying you’re not trying, you are going to have a reaction. I just told him to shut up basically,” Brown said.
“You can call me whatever in terms of how I’ve played, that’s fine. But don’t turn around and say I’m not trying when I’m coming off with bumps and bruises and aching and I’ve given everything I can for England. I’m not a robot," Brown went on.
“I’m a human being who puts it out there every week. I put my body on the line and try my best for my country. So when someone says something like that, I’m going to react. It was quite a reserved reaction for me I think. I’m very happy with it and the way I reacted in that circumstance.”
Brown, 32, gives insight into just how much pressure the English team are under from their supporters. The fullback questioned the loyalty of so-called fans follow England abroad only to hurl abuse at their team. He admits that the hostile atmosphere is getting harder to avoid as he tries to escape social media and the abuse that he receives there.
“I don’t use Twitter any more for that reason,” Brown said. “It’s not really feedback, it’s abuse. It is very hard for professional sports people when they are getting that sort of thing on social media. Some people are more thick-skinned and they can take it. I choose not to.”
England have one final chance before November to try and appease their agitated fans. They take on the Boks in Cape Town knowing that a win will go some way to quelling the pressure they are experiencing with the World Cup looming next year.