- Harlequins prop full of respect for seasonsed front-row adversaries
- I’ll just go out there and try to enjoy it – Marler
Joe Marler is determined to impress after earning an England starting berth and has recognised his time around Stuart Lancaster’s squad throughout this year’s RBS 6 Nations as a key factor in his rapid rise to a full cap.
Speaking shortly after being named at loosehead for Saturday evening’s first Test against South Africa in Durban, 21 year-old Marler also admitted that he has developed a great deal over the course of an Aviva Premiership-winning season at club level with Harlequins.
“I think I learned a lot over that seven-week period I spent travelling with the squad [between February and March],” he explained. “I was given the opportunity to be around it all without having the added pressure of playing.
“Though I was obviously gutted not to be involved in the matches, the experience meant that I could kick on with Quins before knuckling down again ahead of this tour. I’ve done that now and I’m here, starting a Test.”
Despite handing debuts to locks Juandre Kruger and Eben Etzebeth, as well as young openside Marcell Coetzee, Springboks head coach Heyneke Meyer has deployed a very familiar front row in the hope of gaining ascendancy at the scrum.
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Tendai Mtawarira and the du Plessis brothers – Bismark and Jannie – are all teammates at Natal-based Super 15 franchise the Sharks and hold a combined total of 104 Test appearances between them.
Despite outlining his respect for such established opponents, Marler is not fazed by what promises to be a veritable baptism of fire at the weekend.
“Those guys have obviously got a massive international experience and start week-in, week-out together at club level,” he added. They are a seriously tight unit. ‘The Beast’ [Mtawarira] is well known and from his nickname you can tell he is a good scrummager. They’ll bring a really tough challenge up front.
“I will have the odd look beforehand at what my particular opponent does but won’t concentrate on that too much – you can get tunnel-vision with that and forget about playing the rest of your game. Mostly, I’ll just go out there and try and enjoy it.”