New Zealand v England, 2nd Test
All Blacks' diminishing aura of invincibility
Tom Hamilton in Auckland
June 11, 2014
Joe Marler now realises the All Blacks are beatable © Getty Images
The younger Joe Marler used to be slightly awe-struck by the All Blacks, he thought as they were the world's best team, they were invincible. But one of the benefits of Saturday's defeat to New Zealand, if you can take a positive from a loss, was the fact that for England, they now realise they are playing mere-mortals and not supermen.
It was an important experience for Marler and the rest of the front-row, a trio that got the better of their New Zealand counterparts in the cauldron of Eden Park.
"From a personal point of view I probably had the idea in my head that they're invincible," Marler said. "I've always looked on the All Blacks as year-on-year the best team in the world. When you break it down and look at them as individuals and collectively, there are 15 blokes on a field trying to do the same as you.
"We went into the game at Eden Park having spent the build-up trying to get rid of this All Black myth or aura of how they are invincible. We respect them as a team, know they have several world-class players and know they are world champions. But Saturday helped us even further. Now we can go toe-to-toe with these guys and if we want to win we need to go that extra step."
While Marler is likely to get another crack at the All Blacks on Saturday in the second Test in Dunedin, a fair few of his fellow starters in Eden Park may miss out as the Saracens and Saints contingent make their case for selection in training this week. Marler admitted "there's been more edge than usual" and one man who will be doing all he can to prove his credentials will be his Harlequins team-mate Danny Care.
Care missed the first Test due to a shoulder injury and instead channelled his energy into ensuring the England team performed in his absence. Marler revealed via Twitter that Care sent him a good-luck message in the run-up to the first Test, though the reality was Marler only received the letter after playing the All Blacks.
While Care's timing was a little off there, Marler is adamant the rest of his team are up to speed and there is no 'go-slow' strategy which has been mooted by the local New Zealand press this week.
"We want to play at a high tempo and we showed that in the Six Nations when we took France, Ireland and Wales on at that sort of game," he said. "Of course they've come out and said we slow the game down. I didn't see them running to any of the scrums or line-outs quicker than us. It's not a tactic of ours to slow the game down.
"As a spectator or a neutral you'd probably look at it and say it wasn't a great game to watch because there were a lot of dropped balls and set-pieces. That's why the game was slow. It's nonsense."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.