Mentally tough Marmion moves out of Murray's shade

Jonathan Sexton is hit by England’s Tom Wood

Des Berry

Kieran Marmion has come of age as an Ireland international.

What Joe Schmidt knows now is that the Connacht man has the temperament for the game at the highest level.

There has always been the suspicion that the delivery can be less than first-class and his box-kicking game is not what it has to be, especially in Ireland's system.

That is why he has sat and suffered in the shadow of Conor Murray.

The 25 year-old's 13th cap was also his first as a starter in the Six Nations.

England looked to take advantage of any possible weakness.

There was a price on his head and intimidation in their minds.

"You can hear them shouting, 'I'm all over him, I've got him,'" said Marmion.

"I guess it's just a way of putting people off and you just have to try and block that out."

It went even further when the hulking frame of Maro Itoje came straight through a ruck onto Marmion for a blatant penalty.

At least, the half-back was spared the cheap shots that unsurprisingly came the way of Jonathan Sexton.

First, James Haskell got in a blow after Sexton had shaped to kick the ball.

Second row Itoje was next up with a borderline belt and replacement Tom Wood didn't bother to use arms in the tackle.

"I guess it probably worked in our favour," accepted Marmion.

"They were giving away cheap penalties and Johnny has to try and wear that and get on with it.

"You do that for the team and he's a professional who has been in the game for so long, he knows what's coming."

This is the 'win by any means necessary' nature of international rugby where what is right and fair comes a poor second to what you can get away with.