Got milk? Joe Marler reveals secret of his rapid recovery for England
Joe Marler credits drinking two pints of milk each day for the remarkable recovery from a fractured leg that will see him defy medical expectations by starting England's RBS 6 Nations clash with France.
Marler completed Harlequins' defeat at Worcester on New Year's Day despite breaking a bone in his lower leg and having initially been diagnosed with a mere calf injury he was picked to play Sale a week later.
The extent of the damage became clear during the warm-up, however, and he was ruled out for up to five weeks, effectively ending his involvement in the opening two rounds of the Six Nations.
But having drunk over six gallons of milk to acclerate his recovery, he has proved he is ready for the start of England's Grand Slam defence at Twickenham on Saturday.
"I rehabbed the crap out of it to be honest and drank lots of milk. And that's it, my body has taken care of the rest," Marler said.
"It's actually a historical thing because there's lots of calcium in milk, so that helps with the bones. And teeth. That's not a new thing, it's been around for thousands of years.
"Your mum always says milk is really good for you and you don't really believe it until you really need it because you've got a broken leg, so I just drank loads of it.
"I drank two pints a day and it's something I'll keep doing because it's really tasty.
"I always thought green top was good for you because it's reduced fat, but they gave me licence to have blue top and the odd day I'd have that gold top stuff, the one with like 1,000 calories in one pint.
"Maybe I won't carry on with that but blue top, it's been really good for me.
"I'm not putting it all on that, I'm putting it on (England physio) Phil Pask as well, but it's helped."
Marler, who was unable to use a hyperbaric chamber to speed up recovery due to his claustrophobia, laughed off Eddie Jones' repeated claim that living by the sea in Brighton was the key to his rapid rehabilitation.
"Eddie comes out with some stuff, doesn't he? I don't actually live that near the sea, I'm 20 minutes inland. You get a couple of seagulls, but nothing major," Marler said.
"The sea air? I don't know the facts on that but if Eddie's saying it, then I'll agree as he's the boss."
Restoring Marler to fitness became a priority once Mako Vunipola was ruled out for at least the first half of the Six Nations with a knee problem, leaving England to confront the reality of tackling at least the opening rounds without their two outstanding looseheads.
However, the prospect of the 26-year-old being ready for France's visit to Twickenham looked highly unlikely when he was unable to take the field against Sale on January 7.
"Originally when the scan came back and it said you have a broken leg, I thought 'yeah good one' because I'd been jogging around on it," Marler said.
"So when then they told me that I'd really done it, I thought I was going to miss my chance.
"The trouble was I did it in the first half against Worcester and just thought it was a calf knock and I did pull my calf as well, so there was a bit of confusion there.
"I thought I could keep running on it because running is not really my forte anyway so I could get away with hobbling a bit.
"I got to the end of the game and said 'strap it up it's just a tight calf or whatever', and then because of the frozen pitches and the weather, we didn't really get a chance to run it again until the following week's warm-up.
"It was then that I said to them 'I'll be alright, I'll just run it off', but I couldn't run it off because my leg was broken."
Marler's reward for winning his fitness battle is a duel with giant France tighthead Uini Antonio, who weighs almost 25 stones.
"Last season's game against him was the first time I've come up against him and there's some weight there - a lot of weight," Marler said.
"All you can do is push harder than him and take the weight. He's been operating well at La Rochelle and he'll come aggressively so you have to battle that."