James Haskell has insisted England weren’t ‘on a jolly’ after their World Cup campaign was dogged by off-field controversy.
Haskell and team-mates Dylan Hartley and Chris Ashton were warned about their future conduct following an incident with a female hotel worker in Dunedin, while the actions of Mike Tindall and a number of other players during a night out in Queenstown received plenty of headlines both at home and in New Zealand.
Young centre Manu Tuilagi then became the latest England star to make waves away from the pitch when he was cautioned by police for jumping off a passenger ferry in Auckland on Sunday evening.
But despite that hat-trick of high-profile incidents before and after England’s disappointing quarter-final exit to France, Haskell believes he and his team-mates gave everything they had throughout their World Cup campaign.
"I think we have been as professional as we could've been," said Haskell.
"I think guys have worked as hard as they can. Unfortunately there's been a couple of incidents that have caught the headlines – other teams have enjoyed what New Zealand has to offer and seem to have done it in relative peace.
"Unfortunately it's always the way with British teams. It's a shame, because there's a lot of good support for this side and we wanted to make sure we went out there and did justice for this country and ourselves.
"At times we did that and we didn't allow that negative feeling from certain quarters to interfere because, frankly, it wasn't accurate.
"I think people have to realise we're all professional sportsmen. We all work as hard as we possibly can, everyone has that desire to put that shirt on and do well and no-one was here on a jolly.
"That was never the case. I think it's just disappointing. No doubt people will point fingers, when that was just never the case."