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'Really nice tasty training session... Gengey punched me 4 times'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Joe Marler has reported there was an added edge to England training on Tuesday morning at Pennyhill Park that wasn’t evident in the build-up to their round three Guinness Six Nations match versus Wales on February 26. Eddie Jones’ squad is counting down the days to their must-win game this Saturday versus Ireland at Twickenham and sub prop Marler explained that the level of tension was such that he even steered clear of trying to make a trademark gag every now and again.    

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“The mood is good. Sun’s out. Great training session. A really nice tasty one, actually. And boys are really looking forward to another game at Twickenham,” said Marler before elaborating on what ‘really tasty’ meant in an England training sense. 

“I’d say it was a bit more of a step up. There is definitely a bigger sense of ‘okay, Ireland are very good’. England-Wales games are always big and you know that come kick-off it is going to be tasty there. 

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“But with the greatest respect Wales were missing a fair few names and there was probably a bit more expectation on us to win that game whereas Ireland are full bore, they have been together for some time now and it was definitely noticeable in training where boys were like ‘okay, serious game this Saturday’. 

“Not saying that last Saturday wasn’t serious because I know how the media sometimes can twist things. That is a generalisation I know – I’m just double-checking and covering my own arse.”

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Asked to further explain this training ground tastiness, Marler quipped tongue-in-cheek that he had been on the receiving end of some attention from Ellis Genge, his loosehead rival. “Yeah, Gengey punched me four times and he put my nose this way and then he put it that way and then the other two were like rib shots.

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“No, the hits tend to be a little more stickier and there is a little bit more sharpness. Whenever I try and make a gag sometimes I get a couple of laughs out of it but today they were not having any of it. It was almost they were looking at me like ‘shut up’ and I was like ‘okay, right, you lot are serious today’.”

It was later put to Marler that Eddie O’Sullivan, the ex-Ireland coach in the noughties, reckoned this upcoming fixture with England would be a bar-room brawl-type encounter. “Jesus, I’m trying to think of the last bar-room brawl I was in. Is it going to be like that? It’s going to be tasty,” replied the front-rower. 

“They are very, very aggressive at the breakdown. They love chucking numbers in there. Off the top of my head, you get 40-plus attempts at attacking our breakdown from Ireland so it is going to be a ding dong. 

“Did you say that was Eddie O’Sullivan that said that? It’s probably a fair assumption. I quite like that. A nice, clean bar brawl, though. None of the dirt stuff. No gouging or glass throwing. Just the clean stuff.”

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