Joe Marler praised a “world-class” Scotland side and says England will need to be at their best if they are to regain the Calcutta Cup for the first time in four years.  

Marler, who starts on the bench at Scottish Gas Murrayfield, said Finn Russell holds the keys for the home side, and knows England will need to close down Scotland’s playmaker.  

 “I spoke the other day about how much I enjoy watching him on a rugby pitch and I’ve got to not do that if I get on. I’m not here to just spectate. I’ve got to try and disrupt somehow.” 

He believes Russell’s confidence has rubbed off on his team-mates since the fly-half took over the Scotland captaincy for this championship.  

“His leadership and his strength as a rugby player seems to have been infectious for the rest of the squad,” he said.  

“It’s a bit more chest out from the rest of the team, they’re full of confidence and that has been a positive for them.” 

The Harlequins prop admitted the 2018 defeat at Murrayfield was a turning point in the recent history of the fixture, with England’s only win after coming just before Covid hit in 2020.  

He said: “The players that have come through in the Scottish side, you go ‘hang on, they have got some world-class operators now’.  

“It does shift the mindset slightly coming in as underdogs, we just have to focus on the key areas we have identified that we are strong at and try and look at the opportunities we can create against an unbelievable Scottish side.” 

When asked if the Calcutta Cup still meant as much to England,Marler said he was desperate to get his hands on the trophy for a sixth time in his 12-year Test career.  

He said: “It stirs passion in me. I remember growing up, watching the Five Nations [the back end] and the Six Nations and how it was celebrated winning that cup and how much that one game meant.  

“I know people always or often talk about how much that one game means to Scotland, but I watched that and you could see from the England teams who actually won, how much it meant to them to win that cup.  

“Seeing some of the last few years without that cup, with Finn and Greig Laidlaw, that video of them with their shirts off and singing with the cup. Which is great, I love it but I wish I could be doing that rather than watching it.  

“Or that famous Finn Russell photo where he’s got his Spiderman hands up and he’s loving it. That stirs passion in me to go, ‘I want that cup’  and I know a number of the other boys in that team want that cup back as well.” 

He also praised captain Jamie George for the way he’s dealt with the death of his mum Jane last week.  

READ MORE: England captain wants to honour late mum with Calcutta Cup win

“Jamie has been incredible,” Marler said.  

“I remember talking to him a few weeks before coming into camp, and he was talking about the captaincy being offered to him and he wasn’t sure whether he was going to take it up with things going on with his mum. 

“Having known Jane since I was 16/17, coming through the age groups with him, I said ‘mate, just flip it and tell her you’re not doing it and see how upset, disappointed and gutted she’d be if you didn’t do it. You’ve got enough support around you in terms of the senior group to help you with it and you’re the best bloke for it, so let’s crack on and do it.’ 

Scotland Rugby News: England prop Joe Marler addresses the media at MurrayfieldEngland prop Joe Marler addresses the media at Murrayfield (Image: PA)

“I’m pleased that he did and it has been tough since we found out about Jane, but he’s shown huge strength, and vulnerability which is great for the whole group, especially the youngsters to see that.  

“He’s very much thinking ‘I want to come up here, get the job done’. He’s dealt with it incredibly well.” 

Meanwhile, fullback George Furbank said he has been surprised his club colleague Rory Hutchinson hasn’t been able to force his way into the Scotland team.  

Northampton captain Furbank is one of five changes for England for the Calcutta Cup match at Scottish Gas Murrayfield, while his club team-mate Hutchinson will again be confined to a watching brief.  

READ MORE: England make five changes for Calcutta Cup match

The 28-year-old hasn’t featured for Scotland since the 2022 tour to Argentina despite showing good form for the Gallagher Premiership leaders, Furbank said he has been surprised at Hutchinson’s lack of international opportunities.  

Scotland Rugby News: Scotland centre Rory HutchinsonScotland centre Rory Hutchinson (Image: SNS)

He said: "I am a bit surprised but Scotland’s back line is one of their main strengths. They have an incredibly talented backline and you look at their centre partnership, Huw Jones and Sione Tuipulotu, they are both flying and very difficult players to stop.  

“It is a tough team to get into but Hutch is in great form. I reckon he will get a shot in the Six Nations.”