DOPING and betting bans helped drive Eddie Jones' new man to the top of his game.
Just hours after finishing his first ever coaching session with England, ex rugby league star Martin Gleeson, the latest Twickenham hire, said his sporting crimes in 2011 and 2012 could have broken him.
Instead, Gleeson's chequered past helped propel him to be asked by Jones to lead England's assault on the France World Cup in 2023.
Nine years ago the former Wigan centre was given a back-dated three-year ban for using a prohibited drug. . . then lying about it.
Then the bad boy was back in trouble at the end of the following year.
This time it was for betting on his St Helens side to LOSE in a game that he was playing in.
Gleeson, 41, who joins from Wasps, was also slapped with a fine of nearly £10,000 after he won £900 on his wager.
Looking back at his rocky past after meeting Jones' new squad in London on Tuesday, Gleeson said: "It was a long time ago, but I made a couple of big mistakes.
"I’ve processed it, I’m comfortable with it, but I would say the most important thing is how you learn from them and how you get yourself moving forward.
“Something like that can go one of two ways – it can finish you off or shape you and give you more drive and purpose – which is the route I took.
"It drove me through the last decade, from returning to playing, into my coaching career and to where I am now.”
With the help of his mentor Shaun Edwards, one of the biggest cross-code success stories, Gleeson is a rising-star in the 15-a-side game.
And speaking of the Edwards effect, he said: "Shaun was a big influence on me coming to rugby union.
"When he was the Wales coach I used to go and see him throughout the year and he would ask me stuff about defences when I was still in league.
"He was teaching me some stuff within the game. I went to his house and we had some good conversations.
"That really started perking my interest in the game. He was a good reference for me to then get into the game when I first went to Wasps.
"Shaun is obviously someone who played and had success at Wigan, where I’m from.
"I watched him as a kid growing up. He was a big influence.
"He's also someone who’s made the successful transition from a playing career to coaching in a different code.
"To have had the success he’s had, he’s a very special guy."
Gleeson also played with another convert – Andy Farrell.
Now he's coaching his son and England captain, Owen, at Test level.
Asked if there were any similarities between 'Little Faz' and 'Big Faz', Gleeson smiled: "He’s very similar. Similar mannerisms.
"Owen is very thorough in what he does. I’ve been very impressed with him and his desire to improve his game. . . his desire to work hard and the way he is with the lads.
"He leads at training. His dad was a great player and a fantastic leader too. And I think Owen is a chip off the old block."
Gleeson also isn't scared of becoming the latest of Jones' assistants to end up on the scrap-heap after a huge turnover of staff at Twickenham.
Just this summer Simon Amor and John Mitchell left.
But Gleeson added: "I am not fearful of anything. No fear whatsoever – you’ve got to back yourself.
"I played internationally at a young age in rugby league. Growing up, you want to play for your country.
"I’ve been the same as a coach – you want to coach your country.
"I’m a proud Englishman and I want to coach the best players in the best competitions.
"That’s come to me at an early age in coaching – same as playing."
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