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World Cup dream sparked retirement U-turn for England’s ‘plodding’ Marler

England prop Joe Marler came out of international retirement to play at the World Cup

England prop Joe Marler said his belief in the team’s potential to become world champions had fuelled his decision to come out of international retirement.

When Marler quit the Test arena late in 2018, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family, the Harlequins front-row appeared to have no regrets and seemed at ease with his decision.

But with Mako Vunipola struggling with injuries, the experienced Marler answered the call from England coach Eddie Jones and came out of retirement earlier this year ahead of the World Cup.

The 29-year-old, a veteran of 65 Tests, is now set to be involved in England’s quarter-final against old rivals Australia in Oita on Saturday.

“I want to be part of a squad that wins the World Cup,” said Marler.

“That was part of the reason I came out of retirement. I could see the potential in this group and I wanted a taste of that.

“That’s ultimately what’s driving me on for the next couple of weeks.”

Marler was involved when Australia condemned hosts England to a pool-stage exit at the 2015 World Cup with an emphatic 33-13 Twickenham triumph.

While Marler said gaining revenge over the Wallabies for that woeful loss was not part of his agenda this weekend, he added the events of four years ago had finally nailed the perception that Australia had a weak scrum.

Marler, who had been accused of illegally “angling in” during the build-up to the match by former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer, was a member of an England pack that gave away six scrum penalties on that fateful night.

– ‘I’ll stick with plodding’ –

“Traditionally, in a different generation there were always question marks over Australia being weak up front and being wet in scrum time,” he said.

“They showed in 2015 when (Mario) Ledesma was there that he transformed them a bit and he made a huge impact.”

Australia props Scott Sio and Sekope Kepu remain in the Wallabies’ squad, although the third member of their 2015 front row, hooker Stephen Moore, has retired.

“You’ve got Scott Sio who I think’s got 70 caps, top quality loosehead,” said Marler. “(Tolu) Latu, he’s a huge leader for them, big big unit; then you’ve got young (Alan) Alaalatoa, who’s been going really well that tournament.

“So that narrative (of a weak Australia scrum) is no longer the case.”

Marler is confident he will be fully fit for Saturday’s crunch match after recovering from the back injury he sustained in the bonus-point win over Argentina, with England’s final group game against France cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis.

“I did the injury when I attempted to sprint, which is not like me, and I got a little tweak,” Marler said.

“That is not a lie or attempt to be funny.

“What I often do is just concentrate on pushing and then plodding.”

He added: “But when a scrum-half tried to make a break, even though we were 25 points up, I decided to try and chase him down.

“Ridiculous and it’s not going to happen again. I’ll stick with plodding.”

Oct 16, 2019

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