England star Ellis Genge empathises with Raheem Sterling claiming prejudice is rife in rugby too

ENGLAND rugby international Ellis Genge has given his support to footballer Raheem Sterling, and says he faces prejudice continually in his own sport.

The Leicester prop claimed that the media’s treatment of Sterling is much different to that meted out to his white counterparts – and that he has struggled to ‘fit in’ with rugby union’s culture.

 Ellis Genge in action for Leicester Tigers against Racing 92 of France

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Ellis Genge in action for Leicester Tigers against Racing 92 of France

He told The Mail on Sunday: “If Raheem Sterling wants to get a gun tattooed on his leg, let him get a gun tattooed on his leg.

Genge, who has played  five times for England, added: “All this s*** with Raheem Sterling got me thinking. You've got one story for a white 18-year-old and another story for a black boy. It's no different in rugby, you know.

“It's something I want to speak about because my whole career I've felt like I can't express my opinion. I feel like, in rugby, people aren't allowed to be themselves.

“When I was 16, 17, 18, I never made any of the age-group teams. I feel that's because my face didn't fit. I'm not white middle-class — I'm working class.

 Ellis Genge has represented England 5 times at prop

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Ellis Genge has represented England 5 times at prop

“I don't want to put it down to race — I don't think it's about that — but I'll put it down to culture… There's that private-school mould in rugby. It's stopping the game from progressing and it's painful.

The 23-year-old also revealed that he left his hometown of Bristol for Leicester partly for sporting reasons, but also to escape bad influences – as a teenager he had run-ins with the police.

He revealed: “I got arrested, a few of my mates got arrested. Three GBH and a few things I won't ever open the doors on. I want to make it clear that I never got charged for any of that.

 Genge had his shirt ripped open when Leicester played Bristol Bears earlier this month

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Genge had his shirt ripped open when Leicester played Bristol Bears earlier this month

“They were just fights and scuffles that never should've happened. I wasn't a thug who just went around beating people up but I spoke with my hands rather than my mouth.

“I'm not a gangster, that's not me and not the picture I ever wanted to paint.”

Genge has been a regular for Leicester since 2016 and was first called up to the England squad in the same year, but a four-month injury lay-off last season saw him lose his international spot.

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ENGLAND rugby international Ellis Genge has given his support to footballer Raheem Sterling, and says he faces prejudice continually in his own sport.