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'In terms of vulnerability it's like an eye' - Luke Fitzgerald says an example had to be made of Joe Marler

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Joe Marler of England. Photo: Getty Images

Joe Marler of England. Photo: Getty Images

The RFU Collection via Getty Ima

Joe Marler of England. Photo: Getty Images

Luke Fitzgerald believes that the ten week ban imposed on Joe Marler for his garb at Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones's genital area during last week's Six Nations clash is fully justified. 

And while the former Ireland player thinks there was no malice intended, it's his opinion that offences of that nature should be classed in the same bracket as eye-gouging.

"They've got to stamp it out," Fitzgerald told The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast in association with Land Rover.

"He seems like a good character and I do enjoy listening to him speak. He does seem like a kind of funny character, a bit quirky.

"(Why he did) it doesn't make any sense to me, it's interesting to hear that it sounds like he's done it before and got away with it but now's the time to stamp it out because it just opens up a can of worms if you don't. People will think it's okay to hit people there.

"I would consider it on the same kind of scale in terms of vulnerability as an eye. It's a real sensitive area.

"You create a real dangerous precedent if you don't come down really heavy on him because if people think it's okay to be grabbing and pulling around there you can do some serious damage.

"What if his testes were kind of damaged and he can't have kids. That's a serious thing.

"So the implications of hitting someone or grabbing at pulling or twisting, there's a reason that there's a long ban attached to it."

However, while many online have likened the incident to a sexual assault, Fitzgerald believes the fact that different rules seem to apply to on-field behaviour is a factor and has a degree sympathy for the England player.

"Leaving aside the kind of social norm, if there's a digging match during a game, it's not treated as an assault, which is very unusual," he concluded.

"And so you wouldn't treat this as like a kind of a sexual assault, but it's a behavior that we just can't accept in the game.

"I feel bad for him, because I feel like there was no real malice in it, but they have to make an example.

"I think it'll really hurt him because he seems like a good fella but they have to do it."

Online Editors