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
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 08h45 Melbourne
Fri, 24 February 2017
Highlanders v Chiefs 06h35 Dunedin
Reds v Sharks 09h00 Brisbane
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 17h45 Twickenham Stoop
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 19h05 Myreside
Dragons v Leinster 19h30 Rodney Parade
Munster v Scarlets 19h35 Thomond Park
Sat, 25 February 2017
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Brumbies 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Force 08h45 Allianz Park
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Lions 13h05 Bloemfontein
Scotland v Wales 14h25 BT Murrayfield
Kings v Jaguares 15h15 Port Elizabeth
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 2 2 0 0 8
Ireland 2 1 0 1 6
Wales 2 1 0 1 5
France 2 1 0 1 5
Scotland 2 1 0 1 5
Italy 2 0 0 2 0