Marler motivated by scrum battle with France

Joe Marler says England’s pack has an added edge going into their NatWest 6 Nations tussle with France in Paris on Saturday.

The Harlequin, who took part in scrummaging sessions with Georgia three weeks ago, says his forward counterparts have stepped up their intensity since last time out against Scotland, and relish the challenge Les Bleus will pose up front.

“They are very heavy, their back five are usually between 130-140kgs, so it’ll be the traditional French pack, and it will be somewhere they will look to get an advantage but it will be a good challenge for us; there is a bit more edge to us as a forward pack.”

With 54 Test caps to his name, and a wealth of experience on the domestic scene, Marler has proven himself a ballast of any scrum he features in. And the 27-year-old is looking forward to rekindling an old rivalry come Saturday afternoon.

“I have played against Rabah Slimani several times, he is a world class operator and has a good reputation for being a powerful scrummager,” explained the prop.

“He has a pretty unique technique and he’ll be a hell of a challenge for either myself or Mako come the weekend.”

France will play their third home match in the competition on Saturday, and with rain expected in the days leading into the fixture, Marler admits England might have to take pitch conditions into consideration when scrummaging, stating they will ‘adapt accordingly after one or two scrums if needed’.

Amazing place to play

Since their first clash at Stade de France in 1998, England and France have met at the Paris venue on 12 occasions, the England winning five times, and wing Jonny May believes his side must start quicker than they did against Scotland to get the ascendancy in the match.

The atmosphere in all stadiums in the Six Nations is awesome, and Stade de France in particular is an amazing place to go and play rugby,” said May.

If they get an early score the crowd start roaring and the confidence within the team grows, so a good start as the away team is important to take the sting out of the home team.”

And May, who scored two tries in England’s second game against Wales at Twickenham Stadium, has highlighted Mathieu Bastareaud as the man to mark in the French back division.

“He is a key player for them, but the French have a lot of great players so you cannot over-emphasise on one player, but we will have to be ready for him,” the Leicester man added.

“There has been positive energy in camp, and Saturday is an opportunity for us to bounce back and turn what was a difficult day last time out into a positive experience.”