Joe Marler: It's fight and not flight for England against South Africa

It’s all fight and no flight for England against South Africa, insists Joe Marler – as Eddie Jones’ inexperienced front row prepare to face the fearsome Springboks on Saturday

  • Rookie front-rowers Bevan Rodd and Jamie Blamire will play against South Africa
  • Experienced loosehead prop Joe Marler has been named among the substitutes 
  • And Marler insisted England were ready for the physical challenge on Saturday 

England prop Joe Marler has vowed to run towards the ‘fight or flight’ challenge of the heavyweight Springboks.

It will be England’s first meeting with the fearsome Bomb Squad since they were beaten up in the 2019 World Cup final.

Eddie Jones has been forced to name an inexperienced front row for the contest but Marler, who is on the bench, insists they will not shy away.

Joe Marler has insisted England are ready for South Africa’s physical challenge on Saturday

‘When you get adrenaline, it’s very much fight or flight and I run towards the fight side of it,’ said Marler. ‘That’s genetics. Neanderthals, the first men, the reason was to work out whether you could stay and fight or leg it because you’re really scared.

‘That’s how I feel with the Springbok front-rowers, their scrummaging and their passion for it. You could even look at their third-string front row and arguably they’re all world-class operators.

‘I want to test myself against the best in the hottest environment and I’m excited about it. You don’t want it to be easy. The easy ones are boring.’

Rookie loosehead prop Bevan Rodd was named in the starting XV, with Marler on the bench

Despite his experience, Marler has not been named in the starting XV as he has spent 10 days in isolation due to Covid. He claims he spent the time doing shuttle runs in his family’s disused chicken pen and drinking South African Malbec.

He will come up against a fired-up Springboks team, whose plans have been hit by a lengthy ban for director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. 

Erasmus will not be at Twickenham but assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said the team would play for their banned boss.

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus (second right) will not be at Twickenham as he is banned – Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said the team would play for Erasmus

‘Rassie’s a very special guy to us,’ said Stick. ‘We know how much he cares for us, for everyone. The guy really cares about Springbok rugby, the Springbok family, even everyone back at home.

‘Of course we are going to miss him, but one thing I can guarantee you is his spirit will always be there. We know that.

‘We love and we care for him, we have a lot of respect for him. It will be more motivation for us to play even better, because we know what the gentleman has done for us.’

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