Ireland v England, Six Nations, February 10
Beard-free Marler out to impress in Dublin
ESPN Staff
February 7, 2013
England's Joe Marler presides over the breakdown, England v Scotland, Six Nations, Twickenham, London, England, February 2, 2013
Joe Marler will pack down against former Quins team-mate Mike Ross on Sunday © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Joe Marler | Clive Woodward
Tournaments/Tours: Six Nations
Teams: England

England prop Joe Marler has laughed off the suggestion that his decision to shave off his trademark beard will add an injection of pace to his game.

Former England coach sir Clive Woodward hit the headlines last weekend by insisting he would not pick players with beards as believes elite athletes should be looking for every possible advantage to ensure they could compete at the highest level.

"You do not see Olympic 100 metres runners or Tour de France cyclists with beards," Woodward said. "Rugby at the top level is a fast, athletic, power game. The same rules apply."

Marler has responded by trimming his beard but is under no illusion that it will leave Ireland grasping at thin air at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday. "I haven't got a beard anymore and have a bit of stubble because it apparently makes you go faster," Marler told PA Sport.

"So, we will see on Sunday whether I will be skinning Brian O'Driscoll on the outside. It's unlikely. Clive is entitled to his opinion. If I am scoring a try from 50 metres out and skinning everyone, maybe he has got a point!"

Marler will pack down against his former Quins team-mate Mike Ross this weekend and is wary that he is a vastly improved player from the one that left the Premiership side for Leinster in 2009.

"I know he's turned into a pretty reliable and tough scrummager for Ireland through playing week-in, week-out for Leinster," said Marler, who was in the Quins academy when Ross was a first team feature. "It will be a really big test. There are a lot of tight-heads out there who are pretty wide. He's no different."

England lost out on a potential Grand Slam on their last Six Nations visit to Dublin with the hosts claiming a 24-8 victory. But Marler has little time for the past and like the rest of his squad is determined to write his own by building on their opening Six Nations victory over Scotland.

"Ireland pose different challenges to Scotland," he said. "We did pretty well for 50 minutes against Scotland but we know there were times when we could have been more clinical. There are other areas to improve on and we will try to do that against Ireland."

He added: "It's a new era in the England camp and we are looking ahead. We are looking ahead to an exciting challenge against a tough Ireland team," he said. "I have no interest in the history of previous games like that. I was not involved. The experiences we went through in South Africa are something we have learned from as a group. They are our 'go to' memories for us to kick on from."

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