Six Nations 2014: England v Wales - Joe Marler wants no repeat of last year’s video nasty



According to rugby orthodoxy, prop forwards are notoriously slow on the uptake.

Joe Marler, the England loose-head specialist, does not fit the stereotype – he is one of the sharper wits in the red-rose side, with a wide repertoire of one-line ripostes – but the fact remains that it took him almost an entire year to watch a rerun of last season’s Six Nations meeting with Wales in Cardiff.

“It was off-memory until last night,” he said yesterday. “I hadn’t even seen clips of it. So after returning from the cinema [August: Osage County] I decided to see what happened from start to finish, although I fast-tracked through the shots at goal because those are the boring bits. The scoreline was as I remembered it, but there were moments when I thought, ‘Actually, we’re in this game’. And then we weren’t in it. I hope it’s a  bit different this time. I don’t think I’d enjoy a repeat experience.”

England’s problems at the Millennium Stadium that evening started at the scrum, although they did not end there. Marler was given the shepherd’s crook treatment shortly after the interval – “When you see a loose-head prop being substituted that early, it tells you something,” said his opposite number, Gethin Jenkins, shortly after the final whistle – and for that reason there will be a good deal of focus on his work at the set-piece tomorrow. Indeed, his individual contest with the wily old Lions Test tight-head Adam Jones is likely to be at least as significant as the personal duels between the back-rowers and the half-backs.

Props have long memories, and Marler would be a very unusual member of the front-row union if he was not itching to give Jones a taste of his own medicine. But tomorrow’s scrum contest will be entirely different from the one that unfolded last March, for two very good reasons. Firstly, the Australian official Steve Walsh will not be running the show, although he will be running the line; and secondly, the laws pertaining to the set-piece have changed, almost out of recognition.

“I think the changes have been good for me and good for the sport,” said Marler, referring to the abolition of the big-hit engagement in favour of something a little more gentle and a whole lot more technical. “I think those of us on the loose-head side got to grips with the new protocols more quickly than the tight-head props, although most of them have worked it out now.”

And the refereeing? How will Romain Poite, the French official renowned for his understanding of  the art and science of scrummaging, influence proceedings at Twickenham? “For a front-rower, it’s always a pleasure when you have a quality referee who, more often than not, gets the calls right,” the Harlequins forward replied. “You don’t want people guessing and you don’t want loads of resets. You just want clear, accurate decision-making.”

According to Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, Marler’s contribution around the field has improved every bit as much as his work at the set-piece. England will need to see every bit of that improvement tomorrow, particularly in defence.

“Wales have a world-class pack, but they also have people in their back division who are bigger than our forwards,” Lancaster remarked.

It must be unnerving for a solid front-row citizen weighing well over 17st when he finds himself confronted by a wing or a centre constructed on the same generous scale. Marler will not beat George North or Jamie Roberts in a foot race, but in the dark alleys of ruck and maul, he will still be the guv’nor. Some things never change.  

Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home