Dad-to-be Marler out of England team

Fri, 14 Mar 2014 07:06
Large joe marler gestures

Joe Marler withdrew from the England team to play Italy in their Six Nations finale in Rome on Saturday with his partner expecting the couple's first child.

Joe Marler withdrew from the England team to play Italy in their Six Nations finale in Rome on Saturday with his partner expecting the couple's first child.

Mako Vunipola came off the bench to start instead of loosehead prop Marler - who was named in the original starting XV announced by coach Stuart Lancaster earlier - with Matt Mullan filling the bench place vacated by Vunipola.

"Thanks for the kind messages, go well Saturday boys," Marler told his Twitter followers.

"Hopefully I'll have a little one to watch the game with," he added over an altered photo of a baby sporting Marler's trademark mohican hairstyle and what appeared to be the player's own nose.

England must beat Italy to have a chance of denying either Ireland or France, who play in Saturday's final match of the tournament in Paris, the title.

An England statement issued late Thursday said Marler was staying at home with his partner ahead of the "imminent" birth of their first child.

With British and Irish Lions star Alex Corbisiero still sidelined with a knee injury, fourth-choice prop Mullan now finds himself in the match-day 23.

"It is important that Joe is with his partner at this exciting time," said Lancaster. "Family must always come first and everyone in the squad wishes them well.

"We have prepared for being without Joe and we have no doubt Mako will slot straight in and perform, as will Matt Mullan should he get an opportunity.

"Matt played in the autumn internationals. There's no problem with him, he's been involved right throughout the campaign. He's a good player to come on."

England are in a three-way fight for the title with Ireland and France, who meet in Paris in Saturday's final match of a staggered last day schedule.

Lancaster's men will first need to win in Rome to give themselves any sort of chance and they also want to claw back their 49-point points difference deficit on leaders Ireland.

But while England have never lost to Italy, their last two matches have been hard-fought, one-score, encounters with Lancaster's men prevailing 19-15 in Rome two years ago and 18-11 at Twickenham in the return fixture last season.

"Winning is the priority. We went there two years ago and there were different conditions. It was very difficult," said Lancaster.

"Look at the Scotland game (against Italy), that was 21-20 (to Scotland).

"Italy beat France last year and Ireland also lost. Wales and Australia both struggled two years ago.

"It's not an easy place to go and get a lot of points. We know what's coming."

England might have been eyeing a Grand Slam but for a dramatic 26-24 loss to France in their tournament opener in Paris where they were denied by Gael Fickou's converted try in the closing minutes.

But they have bounced back with well-deserved wins over Scotland, Ireland and defending champions Wales to clinch the Triple Crown.

And now Lancaster wants his youthful side to sign off from the tournament in style.

"The character we've shown has been excellent throughout. The attitude and desire to improve has been exceptional," he said.

"But we have to back that up with a final performance that means we leave the Six Nations in a positive state of mind for the New Zealand tour."

Lancaster had previously announced one change to his match-day squad with fit-again centre Manu Tuilagi replacing Alex Goode on the bench.

England - revised: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 David Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 George Ford, 23 Manu Tuilagi.

Date: Saturday, March 15
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 13.30 (12.30 UK time, 12.30 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

 

 

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sun, 01 May 2016
Exeter Chiefs v Wasps 12h00 Sandy Park
London Irish v Harlequins 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Newcastle Falcons 14h15 Allianz Park
Fri, 06 May 2016
Crusaders v Reds 07h35 Christchurch
Brumbies v Bulls 09h40 Canberra
Griffons v Eagles 15h00 Welkom
EP Kings v Blue Bulls 16h00 Port Elizabeth
Sat, 07 May 2016
Sunwolves v Force 05h15 Tokyo
Chiefs v Highlanders 07h35 Hamilton
Waratahs v Cheetahs 09h40 Sydney
Leopards v Boland 12h30 Potchefstroom
Sharks v Hurricanes 13h00 Durban
Golden Lions v Free State Cheetahs 13h00 Randburg
Griquas v Border 13h00 Kimberley
Pumas v Namibia 13h00 Mpumalanga
Wasps v London Irish 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks 14h30 Kingston Park
Worcester Warriors v Saracens 14h30 Sixways
Bath v Leicester Tigers 14h30 Recreation Ground
Gloucester v Northampton Saints 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs 14h30 Twickenham
Zebre v Dragons 15h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Munster v Scarlets 15h00 Thomond Park
Ospreys v Ulster 15h00 Liberty Stadium
Connacht v Glasgow Warriors 15h00 Sportsground
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 15h00 BT Murrayfield
Leinster v Treviso 15h00 RDS
Kings v Blues 15h05 Port Elizabeth
Sharks v Western Province 15h30 Durban
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 5 5 0 132 10
Wales 5 3 1 1 7
Ireland 5 2 1 2 5
Scotland 5 2 0 3 4
France 5 2 0 3 4
Italy 5 0 0 5 0