Joe Marler delivers honest assessment of England return chances: ‘I’m not playing well enough’

 (Getty Images for Barbarians)
(Getty Images for Barbarians)

Joe Marler accepts he is “not in the conversation” for England selection, and on form grounds too.

The Harlequins prop admitted his club performances have not matched those of current England regulars Ellis Genge and Mako Vunipola.

Marler insisted he will always keep himself available should England coach Eddie Jones reach out ahead of next year’s World Cup in France.

But the 32-year-old believes head coach Jones is selecting on club form when it comes to front-row options.

Marler ran the rule over everything from an upcoming appearance at the London Palladium to watching the Red Roses’ World Cup final on TV with a kebab to cap a night out on Barbarians duty.

The Quins stalwart joined the Evening Standard Rugby Podcast this week, to talk life and everything in it with co-hosts Lawrence Dallaglio and Sarra Elgan – and a touch of the day job he still relishes too.

“I’d love to still be able to go and play at the next World Cup and give it one more crack,” Marler told the Evening Standard Rugby Podcast.

“But when it comes to loosehead it very much is picked on form right now. I’m not in the conversation because I’m not playing well enough.

“You’ve got Gengey who is vice captain and a huge influence on that pack, and key to England’s attack, not to mention his physicality in defence.

“So he’s key to that team, and Mako’s come back this season in great form. And you’ve got young, hungry Bevan Rodd, and Val Rapava Ruskin, who you would argue has been the form club loosehead in the league.

“You can argue that Eddie Jones might not be picking on form elsewhere but he’s certainly picking on form at loosehead. I can’t argue with that, so I’ll just keep playing and if the call does come one day, then brilliant, I’d take it with both hands.

“I also recognise I’m getting on a bit at 32, but there’s no shutting up shop.”

Marler has racked up 83 England caps since his 2012 debut, and helped Jones’ men reach the World Cup final in Japan in 2019.

At Harlequins Marler has been a pivotal figure in moving comfortably past 250 appearances. With his own podcast ‘The Joe Marler Show’ in full swing and a tour in the offing next year, the Quins star also looked back on trying to lift the mood during Covid lockdowns.

Marler found himself caught in a loop of buying and wearing ever more outlandish tracksuits to arrive for Quins matches, and explained how the ruse took off.

“It became clear to me I was struggling a little bit without the fans,” said Marler, of playing behind closed doors.

“I had gone through a lot of my career not really appreciating the fans, it wouldn’t so much sit comfortably with me that people would ask for a photo or whatever. I always thought it was a bit weird, so I didn’t really have that connection.

“But lockdown took that all away, and it became soulless, and I was struggling to get up for games, even though I knew just how lucky we were to be able to keep playing and put some smiles on some faces for people watching on TV.

“But I just thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just mix it up a bit’. We were with adidas at the time, and they’ve got some decent retro gear. I bought a tracksuit, it was fun, so it gave me something a bit fun to do.

“Then the boys would be like, ‘Oh right, what are you going to have next week’. Some of them have cost me an arm and a leg. There was a red one, it was a Beyonce collaboration with adidas.

“I had to lock it down quickly and that was the priciest one going, only for me to turn up and for people to say I looked like an immersion heater!”

The Evening Standard Rugby Podcast, in partnership with Fuller’s London Pride, is a weekly podcast that launched in 2021. London Pride are the official beer of Premiership Rugby and the weekly podcast is now back with BT Sport Rugby presenter Sarra Elgan joining the team as a regular presenter alongside Lawrence Dallaglio.