Rugby League World Cup 2013: Gareth Hock was 'unfairly treated'

Rugby League World Cup

  • Dates: 26 October to 30 November

Coverage: Watch England's group matches and Wales v Italy, plus one quarter-final, one semi-final and the final live on BBC TV, online, mobiles and Connected TVs. Listen to every match live on BBC Radio 5 or 5 live sports extra

Gareth Hock has told the BBC that he does not think his breach of discipline was serious enough for him to be removed from England's World Cup squad.

The forward, 30, said he and some team-mates went on a night out after England's surprise defeat by Italy.

Hock overslept the next morning, missing a recovery session, and was informed of his dismissal in a phone conversation with coach Steve McNamara.

"For missing a 10-minute swim - I think it's out of order really," said Hock.

"I agree that it was wrong and we shouldn't have had a drink, but there were six or seven of us and we all did the same thing," he told BBC North West Tonight.

Hock's career controversies

  • 2008: Handed five-game ban for grabbing a referee in a defeat by Huddersfield Giants
  • 2009: Suspended for two years after testing positive for cocaine
  • 2011: Returns from drugs ban, gets five-match suspension for gouging incident at Warrington
  • 2013: Sent home from the England World Cup training squad at Loughborough for "a serious breach of team discipline"

England have said they will make no further comment about Hock's removal. Huddersfield's Brett Ferres has been added to the squad in his place.

In a statement released late on Tuesday evening, they confirmed the Salford-bound second-rower had been taken out of the 24-man party "as a result of serious breaches of team discipline that have fallen below the strict code of conduct as agreed by team management".

Hock's career has been littered with controversy, including a two-year ban after testing positive for cocaine in 2009, and he admitted he can understand why people may jump to conclusions about the nature of his indiscretion.

He continued: "People are thinking the worst because of the way it's been handled. I know what people will be thinking, and that's up to them. It's come out wrong and people are thinking the worst.

"That's the only thing that's happened and I only did the same as what the other lads did, apart from sleeping in for half an hour."

An alcohol ban had been imposed on the England squad until after their World Cup opener against pre-tournament favourites Australia in Cardiff on 26 October.

But Hock said the ban was broken after they lost their final warm-up match 15-14 to the unfancied Italians in Salford.

Analysis

"In terms of Hock as an England player, he was always likely to be a risk - he's an X-factor player who can turn a game, but equally does give penalties away and lacks discipline. Put this alongside the shock defeat against Italy - you hope it doesn't lead to a meltdown and England recover their poise."

The former Wigan Warriors man, who has won eight England caps, added: "A few of the boys went out for a few drinks and then went out for a bite to eat. We came back and I overslept. I missed a 10-minute swim and a 10-minute medical check-up.

"We were told that there was no drinking until after the Australia game, but we were disappointed about the loss and a few of us had a few drinks.

"We got a phone call from Steve to say he'd found out we'd been out, and he would be ringing us back with his decision. He rang me back and said he was going to be taking me out of the squad."

Hock, who was unhappy not to be told the news face-to-face, continued: "I blew up a bit and he said the others would be getting disciplined as well, but then afterwards I found out that there was only me being taken out of the squad. I was gutted. I thought it was a bit harsh and I just needed a warning like they did.

"I've worked really hard for this and the people in the camp will tell you that. It's embarrassing.

"All I can say is 'sorry' again for what I did do, but it's nothing bad compared to what people are thinking.