Joe Marler has praised his England colleague Ellis Genge 's "maturity" and says the 27-year-old has earned "huge" respect from his international team-mates.
Genge was, until recently, something of a bit-part player for Eddie Jones, with only nine of his 28 caps before the Summer Series last year being earned as a starter.
But he has impressed enough to make the loosehead position his own since then, having started each of the six Tests for which he has been available.
That number could have been eight, had he not been unavailable for matches against Australia and South Africa in November through illness.
He has started all of England's 2022 Six Nations matches so far, and is expected to do so again when they line up against Ireland on Saturday.
That is a stark comparison to each of the last three editions of the tournament, across which Genge started just twice and made 12 more appearances from the bench.
But Mako Vunipola is no longer the preferred starting loosehead, and Genge has made that position his own – earning big praise from fellow prop Marler.
"His maturity has accelerated and the leader that he has become in the group, the respect that he has got off the whole group is huge," said the man who has been playing back-up to Genge of late.
"His knowledge is underrated. I think a lot of people just see him at this aggressive ball carrier who is just in your face but his actual knowledge of the game is second to none. And he is really starting to come of age in the sense of the set-piece work.
Marler added: "Still learning, as a lot of young boys are still learning, but he is winning more of those battles than he was before.
"He is also adding that abrasive carrying that he can do week in, week out in the Prem that he not necessarily has been able to do [with England] because he has been doing it off the bench in bit-parts previously but now he is starting the games and is showing his qualities there.
"He has been massive for us and long may it continue."
His praise for Genge comes after some similarly positive words from England coach Jones, who highlighted the 27-year-old as a great role model for "young kids from non-rugby backgrounds".
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