England 29-18 Wales
Marler: Win over Wales has buried ghosts
Tom Hamilton at Twickenham
March 10, 2014
Joe Marler is congratulated by Stuart Lancaster following their win over Wales © Getty Images
England's Joe Marler admitted their 29-18 win over Wales helped bury the ghosts of last year's hammering in Cardiff.
The 30-3 loss to Wales last season caused the England coaching staff to re-evaluate the team. The team picked by Stuart Lancaster for this season's Six Nations bears little resemblance to the XV that finished the last campaign but Marler has kept his place in the side.
Marler has grown as a player over the last year and it is testament to how well he has played that England are showing little signs of being weaker in the pack without Alex Corbisiero. England coach Graham Rowntree singled out Marler for praise in the wake of their win over Wales saying the loose-head had raised his game to the next level and Marler has said his individual growth is down to the team improving as a group.
"The progress we have made as a team has helped each individual grow in confidence and in the belief in the way we want to play," Marler said following England's win over Wales. "The boys have better clarity in what they want to do. We're not all here to pull balls out of our arses and throw them all around, we leave that to the backs. Everyone knows their roles."
The mood in the camp following their win over Wales was a stark contrast to the gloom surrounding their hammering last season.
"It was a long 12 months both as a team and a personal point of view. It was good to get in a decent performance though it wasn't quite the intensity we had in the Ireland game. That's the sort of thing we want to replicate each week but it does take its toll on the body. The boys played really well and the backs were outstanding in attack and we managed to get parity up front with them so the backs had good ball.
"I'm very proud of the boys, we stood up out there and outworked them. We knew the hype of them being a fit team, fitter than anyone else in the world and we wanted to test that opinion and I think we did. They were tough to break down but we kept cool heads."
England now head to Italy knowing they have to win to keep the pressure on France and Ireland who are on equal points. Marler wants his team to push on and, if picked, is looking forward to facing Martin Castrogiovanni.
"There are still things for us to work on. We were disappointed with the first scrum and the penalties we gave away as that stopped our momentum and tempo.
"And now we go to Italy and I think them and Ireland have been good throughout the tournament. Castrogiovanni's probably up next for me or Mako Vunipola. He's a world-class tight-head and one we're looking forward to. We know we've got a tough task next week but we can only concentrate on ourselves. What will be, will be. We'll look back on this campaign hopefully as a time when we made a lot of progress as we prepare for a difficult summer."
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Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.