'Much less in-house bitching': Life with England after latest loss
Joe Marler has given the current England set-up under Eddie Jones the highest of praise for how tight-knit the squad is – quite a compliment in the week following last Saturday’s wounding Guinness Six Nations round one loss to Scotland at Murrayfield. The loosehead’s 75-cap Test career dates back to 2012 and he has been involved in 25 losses in that time.
He knows what disappointment is like and has much experience of being in camps overwrought by the emotions of losing. That experience means Marler is well placed to provide an overview of how England are genuinely coping with their latest setback and his outlook is positive with the pieces being picked up ahead of Sunday’s round two game away to Italy.
“With this group, it is probably the tightest group I have been a part of with a lot of youngsters who are very good friends off the pitch and the sort of older heads coming together a bit, so it is very tight and the way we have responded to it [losing] has been much less in-house bitching so to speak as there may have been in the past,” explained Marler, who skipped last season’s Six Nations due to the bubble restrictions but returned to the fold for the Autumn Nations Series.
“It has actually been a pretty level response. We did so many good things in that game (against Scotland) but these little execution pieces, these bits that we didn’t quite get right, we need to work on. It is never as bad as we think it is and it is never as good as we think it is. It’s a pretty level response we have had from the group and it’s pleasing.”
The England squad the 31-year-old prop returned to for the Autumn Nations Series was much changed as coach Jones had opted to shake things up following last season’s fifth-place Six Nations finish. Numerous fresh faces were called up and their presence in the group of 27 currently preparing to fly to Rome following Friday’s team announcement has generated a very different dynamic in the squad.
“With the new generation of players coming through now, there has had to be a bit of an adaption from the staff and also the older boys that the old hierarchical system that may have worked in rugby previously just doesn’t really work that much now,” explained Marler. “It’s more about open communications, honest communications, appropriate communications with the youngsters and finding different ways to connect with them rather than the old school. ‘here’s a stick’.
“We [the older players] play our part, we adapt, we try and use the sort of experience that we have got from being in similar situations and impart that on the guys who are taking the team forward now.”
Who are those guys standing up and leading the most this week? “It would be (Ellis) Genge and (Kyle) Sinckler that would be setting the tone this week about, ‘Come on boys, we are all gutted and disappointed about the loss, we are all aware of the areas that led to that loss and also aware that Scotland played very well to win that game but we have got another game. We can’t wallow’. Those two are showing massive amounts of maturity to lead this squad moving forward.”
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