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Marler: England can handle mud bath


Latest rugby union news

Latest rugby union news

Latest rugby union news

England prop Joe Marler is unconcerned by the alarming state of the Murrayfield pitch and says he has played on far worse surfaces.

A parasite infection that has been treated with garlic, combined with a wet winter, has seen the ground cut up badly during Scotland and Edinburgh games this season.

England have refused to condemn the playing surface ahead of Saturday's RBS 6 Nations showdown, but with rain forecast for the hours leading into the match a mud bath is expected.

Such conditions would improve Scotland's chances of dragging the odds-on favourites into the trenches and completing an ambush that would end England's title quest.

Scrummaging could be particularly problematic, but past experiences - notably at Bristol club Dings Crusaders - have left Marler nonchalant as he prepares to lock horns with the Scots' front row.

"At Dings Crusaders the pitch was full of sand, pebbles, glass.....hopefully Murrayfield won't be as bad as that!" the Harlequins prop said.

"There are quite a few pitches out there that are like that. It's the same for both teams.

"The pitch is not something we've spoken too much about. We know the pitch will probably be terrible and so will the conditions, but you just get on with it as it affects both sides."

England can ill-afford for their best-laid plans to be undone by a sub-standard playing surface as they visit Edinburgh knowing only victory will revive the title hopes battered by last weekend's 26-24 loss in Paris.

There was much to admire in the fightback mounted against France and the similar display of character seen when losing to New Zealand at Twickenham last autumn.

Marler, however, fails to any see honour in gallant defeats.

"We can't afford to lose any more games now if we want to be in it at the end, and we almost certainly don't want to be nearly men," he said.

"It's all well and good playing well, but the idea is to win the game. You can play well but lose all the games in the season.

"You don't want people saying, 'Oh, but you played quite well'. We want to win stuff, that's why we're here.

"It annoys me a little bit when people do that. I just ignore them and get on with it."

None of Marler's 16 caps have been won at Murrayfield, but the Harlequins loosehead prop journeyed to Edinburgh as a travelling reserve two years ago.

England won 13-6 in Stuart Lancaster's first game as head coach and the experience has prepared Marler what to expect on Saturday.

"I love going into places like that. No one likes England, particularly the Scots. It will be another environment to relish and look forward to," he said.

England will on Thursday morning complete the formality of naming their starting XV and replacements for the must-win Calcutta Cup showdown.

Lancaster announced on Tuesday night that the same matchday squad selected against France has been retained for Edinburgh.

The only injury concerns that arose from the Stade de France were wing Jonny May's fractured nose and the cheekbone damage sustained by lock Courtney Lawes.

Lawes was cleared on Sunday when it was revealed he had suffered only bruising and May was cleared to play at Murrayfield on Monday evening.