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Wales coach Warren Gatland: Time to move on from Joe Marler "banter" incident

Wales head coach Warren Gatland wants to put Joe Marler incident to bed
Wales head coach Warren Gatland wants to put Joe Marler incident to bed

Warren Gatland says Wales have accepted England prop Joe Marler's apology and that the Twickenham incident with Samson Lee is "not an issue for us."

Marler must wait a fourth day to discover if his verbal abuse of Wales prop Lee during last Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash is to result in any punishment from disciplinary chiefs.

Six Nations organisers have announced there will be no verdict on the incident that occurred during England's 25-21 victory until after Marler's citing for striking has been heard on Wednesday afternoon.

The delay in publishing the findings into the incident during which Marler called Lee "gypsy boy" comes despite the Harlequins loosehead having apologised to his rival at half-time for the comment and Eng land censuring the player and reminding him of his conduct.

However, no update will be given until after Marler's hearing for striking Wales prop Rob Evans with his forearm - an act also committed in the first half of a thrilling Twickenham showdown - has been heard in London.

Asked for his views on the Marler-Lee episode, Wales head coach Gatland said: "Look, we have no issue. It was just a bit of banter, as far as I am concerned. And that's the way that Samson said it.

"Joe said to him at half-time it was only just a bit of fun, and Samson said he has no issue. It's just banter on the rugby field.

"Fifteen, 20 years ago, those things were sorted out with fists and stuff.

"Look, we don't want to make a massive issue out of it. Let's put it to bed, really. I was more concerned about the forearm. He has been cited for it, and we will see what the outcome is.

"It was just one of those things, a little bit of banter, and we've accepted that and we've accepted the apology and just move on. It's not an issue for us.

"But, in modern sport, players have got to be aware that there are microphones everywhere and you have to act accordingly to the possibility that comments are going to be picked up on the field."

England's victory over Wales - and Scotland beating France 24 hours later - meant that Eddie Jones' side were crowned Six Nations champions, and they now head to Paris this weekend, where a win against Les Bleus would secure a first Grand Slam since 2003.

Wales, meanwhile, will finish as runners-up if they defeat Principality Stadium visitors Italy, moving up one place from last season.

Gatland added: "To finish second would be a reasonable achievement, and hopefully a stepping stone into New Zealand (on tour) this summer.

"We've spoken about how our next challenge as a side is to continue to develop and to start beating these southern hemisphere teams.

"We get a chance in June against New Zealand, who are obviously in a rebuilding phase, having lost so many experienced players. We have to be pretty excited about that."

Asked if winning in New Zealand would make up for Wales' Six Nations disappointment this season, Gatland said: "Absolutely not. This is our bread and butter - winning the Six Nations is important for us. I don't think you can compare them.

"Winning the Six Nations is what we are here to do, and that's incredibly important for us. Then you put that behind you and focus on the next challenge.

"We are disappointed we are out of this competition, but we have a chance to finish second with a good performance on Saturday."


From Belfast Telegraph