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Troubled Waters

Three more England players land themselves in hot water

Martin Johnson has reprimanded three of his players after they made lewd comments to a female hotel worker in New Zealand.

MARTIN JOHNSON WAS not a happy man when he faced the media for his latest squad update.

The England coach had to answer questions about his players’ latest indiscretion, more queries about Mike Tindall’s infamous night out in Queenstown and is also now preparing for the possibility that fly-half Jonny Wilkinson could miss the team’s quarter-final clash with France.

The former World Cup winner confirmed that three of his players – James Haskell, Dylan Hartley and Chris Ashton – have been official warned over their future conduct after making inappropriate comments to a hotel worker.

Annabel Newton told the Sunday Mirror that they players “treated (her) with no respect”, adding that “they couldn’t understand what they did wrong” after making lewd sexual comments towards her.

The trio has apologised to Ms. Newton, but Johnson said he was furious that his squad had made further off-the-pitch headlines.

He told reporters: “I was angry. It is just the sort of thing we have talked about. What they thought was humour and a light-hearted exchange has clearly not been taken that way by Annabel, the girl involved.

“At the time they apologised when they realised they had stepped over the mark. They were shocked when they understood how upset she had become. They have been reprimanded for their behaviour and left in no doubt.

“If you leave yourself open for these headlines to be written it drags us all into it and that is what makes me particularly angry.”

The England boss insists he still trusts his players, concluding: “It was a shock to the players that they’d left themselves open to appearing on the front page of a paper. That’s upsetting for them and it’s obviously not great for the team. I don’t want to sit here talking about these allegations when we’ve qualified for the quarter-finals of a World Cup.”

A spokesman for Tindall, meanwhile, said the player was sorry for giving a misleading account of his recent activities on a team night out, with Johnson insisting that there was no “orchestrated cover-up” and that it was “an innocent mistake”.

When the talk came around to rugby, Johnson confirmed that while a scan on Wilkinson’s arm has shown no immediate problem, it will be another 24 hours before his medical staff will get a full idea of the extent of his injury. Tindall, too, will have his leg problem re-assessed on Monday.

Elsewhere, full-back Delon Armitage will appear before a disciplinary hearing in Auckland on Monday after being cited for a high tackle on Scotland’s Chris Paterson during the final pool fixture between the two nations on Saturday. If would guilty, Armitage faces a suspension of between two and ten weeks – likely ending his World Cup campaign.

READ – Match report: Ireland show the world they’re here to play

READ – Johnson forced to answer more tough questions

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