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England prop Joe Marler on facing Bok scrum: ‘I run towards the fight side of it, and I love it’

FILE - England's Joe Marler (left) takes part in a training session. Photo: Dave Rogers/AFP

FILE - England's Joe Marler (left) takes part in a training session. Photo: Dave Rogers/AFP

Published Nov 19, 2021


Cape Town – It’s the ‘Fight Club’ against the ‘Bomb Squad’ at Twickenham on Saturday, so who will come out on top in the scrum battle between England and South Africa?

Well, experienced English prop and perennial funny man Joe Marler is not only talking the talk, but walking the walk…

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When asked by Independent Media on Friday about whether England’s Fight Club – a new name for their group of front-row forwards – can defuse the Springboks’ Bomb Squad of replacement front-rowers, Marler was in his element.

ALSO READ: England captain Courtney Lawes: There are times to front up and play away from Boks

During an online press conference, the 31-year-old – one of the real characters of the sport, was eating something out of a bowl as he is still searching for his taste-buds after coming out of Covid-19 quarantine on Thursday evening.

And then got out of his chair and showed off shiny white boxing boots.

“You see them? Yeah, they’re my boxing boots! Got them on, I’m always ready! Can the Fight Club defuse the Bomb Squad? We’d give it a good try, shall we?” Marler smiled.

ALSO READ: Eddie Jones on England’s World Cup final loss to the Springboks: ‘You never forget it, mate’

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“I don’t really like fighting. It’s like fake toughness – (makes sounds of a beast) and all of that. That feeling after you’ve had a fight – I don’t know if anyone else feels like this, I’m sure there hasn’t… but the comedown after a fight and the shakes it gives you, and the emotion you end up after a fight, it’s one of the worst feelings.”

He rates fellow loosehead prop Ellis Genge as the best boxer in the England squad. “You don’t want to get on the end of one of his… Naturally powerful, and he is also really horrible, and aggressive. So, that combination, and the fact that he is obsessed with Mike Tyson… So you go, ‘I’m just going to avoid him like the plague’.”

But what about the all-powerful Bok scrum, which destroyed the English pack in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final?

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ALSO READ: ’We’ll show them our forward pack is not weak,’ says Eddie Jones ahead of Springbok showdown

Talking about that final, Marler will never forget how Cheslin Kolbe ran past him to score the Boks’ second try.

Independent Media asked he if he was the happiest man in England because Kolbe won’t be playing on Saturday, to which he responded: “Ah, very good! I thought there was going to be a scrum angle from you there, and then you hit me even harder, with the dagger…

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“I want to use a word that would be considered mean, and inappropriate! But I won’t use that. So, you, urgh – yes, I am very happy, thanks!”

ALSO READ: Springboks will be even more motivated after Rassie Erasmus’ punishment, to Eddie Jones’ dismay

Marler, who has 73 Test caps, will come off the bench at Twickenham on Saturday, and will most likely have to face Vincent Koch in the scrums in the second half. And it’s something he cannot wait for.

“I thought about this – like, you know when you get adrenalin… Adrenalin is used to fight or flight, in our genetics or something? I’m not going to sound really clever here, but Neanderthals – the first men and all that – the reason was to work out whether you can stay and fight, or leg it because you are really scared… That’s sort of how I feel with Springbok front-rowers and their scrummaging, their passion for it – it’s very much a fight or flight (situation),” Marler said.

“And I run towards the fight side of it, and I love it. All six of them, and you could even look at their third-string front rows and go ‘Arguably they’re all world-class operators’, and that’s what you want to do – or that’s what I want to do… I can’t speak for others.

ALSO READ: Cobus Reinach will look to provide slick service from the base for the Springboks against England

“I want to test myself against the best, and in the hottest environments. So, I’m really excited about it.”


IOL Sport

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