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The Springboks verdict on isolated England prop Joe Marler

By PA
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Springboks No8 Duane Vermeulen expects Joe Marler to be unaffected by his spell in self-isolation when he lines up for England on Saturday. Marler missed last weekend’s conclusive victory over Australia after testing positive for coronavirus and will only be able to leave quarantine the day before the Springboks arrive at Twickenham.

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England’s front row resources have been depleted by injury and Covid so Marler is expected to be included on the bench or the starting XV when Eddie Jones names his team on Thursday morning.

Vermeulen insists the Harlequins prop will not be fazed, citing the Springboks’ own experience of taking to the field soon after leaving isolation. “If I’m not mistaken, our South Africa squad did it against Georgia in the summer,” he said.

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“And the guys were in lockdown before they played for the SA A team. They could only get out on the Friday to do their captain’s run. It’s going to have a major effect on you but as an individual, it is a little bit different to a bigger group of guys.

“If you are fit enough… Joe Marler is a good scrummager and loves a bit of banter on the field. He will be happy if he is starting or sitting on the bench.”

South African rugby has been rocked by the news that former prop Jannie du Plessis’ son drowned in a swimming pool on Tuesday. “We haven’t discussed it as a squad yet, but I woke up to a message from my missus about what had happened back home,” Vermeulen said.

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“They are in our thoughts and on our minds, and we send our condolences to Jannie and family. It’s obviously a very difficult time and we will stand behind and support them in whatever way we can.”

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