Joe Marler was taken aback on Tuesday when reminded at a media conference that he personally hasn’t beaten New Zealand in any of the five matches he has featured against them.
“Is that true? It was close in 2014,” he said. “I’m desperate to win in order to get to a World Cup final, not because I have 0-0-0-0 on the record.
“If I had stuck with my original decision to retire on 0-0-0-0, I was content. But I’m desperate to get to the final of the World Cup.”
The loosehead came out of Test retirement to return in time for the World Cup and while he is set for a place on the England bench next Saturday now that Mako Vunipola proved his fitness when starting the quarter-final win over Australia, Marler is delighted to still be making an important contribution.
“I loved it,” he said of his late second-half appearance in Oita last Saturday. “It was one of the best games I have been part of in terms of atmosphere and the squad unity and tightness. Great to play my part – and the pace had gone out of the game by then!”
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Marler has nothing but praise for the atmosphere that currently exists in the England camp. “I can only tell you about the vibe I get from the group. I have got this nervous energy inside of me rather than a fear of a semi-final – a big occasion in the World Cup I haven’t experienced before.
“It’s probably even more excited, the boys are a bit giddy. Dan (Cole) is never giddy. I’m a bit giddy. There’s that excitement, that buzz around finals rugby – do or die, the big games we all want to be a part of.”
Addressing allegations by Eddie Jones that an England training ground spy had been spotted, Marler said: “I don’t know. I couldn’t see anyone. It was too windy. I doubt he’d have got much anyway, it was tipping it down.”
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