Joe Marler: ‘I really need to knuckle down now’
Prop is likely to return to England fold for Scotland game after serving another ban
Joe Marler could feature for England against Scotland after serving his latest suspension. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty
Five minutes before full time at Twickenham, it struck Joe Marler like a sledgehammer. Until that point Marler had avoided watching any of England’s nail-biting Six Nations win against Wales but with the side clinging on last Saturday the Harlequins prop, whose second suspension of the season expires next week, cracked.
“I got home for the last five minutes,” Marler said. “It is my favourite fixture – England v Wales, the game I love playing in and I was gutted not being part of it. Watching the last five minutes, kicking the kids and the wife out of the lounge, I was like: ‘You need to leave, I need to watch the telly.’ That sticks with me. I really need to knuckle down now because I’m missing out on things I really want to be a part of.”
Eddie Jones has made it clear to Marler that he must clean up his act to remain a permanent member of the squad after nine weeks of suspensions this season, as well as a slap on the wrist from the Rugby Football Union for an unseemly spat with James Haskell in September.
Jones, though, took the unusual step of including the pair – Haskell has also been banned – in training squads during the first two rounds of the Six Nations, and they have even been room-mates at the team hotel. “It is awful because there is no being managed in order to peak for Saturday,” added Marler. “We have been up at the crack of dawn and just flogged. Rightly so, a little bit as a punishment.”
With Alec Hepburn released to Exeter this week, Marler seems certain to make his comeback against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday week as England look to a third consecutive victory. One major aberration against Wales in 2016 aside, Marler’s disciplinary record for England is better than for Harlequins but that has not stopped Jones reading the riot act and it is unlikely to prevent opponents testing the length of his fuse.
“Any mistake you make or penalty you give away [playing for your country] can have a huge repercussion,” Marler said. “In a club game you can get away with a lot more and I’m probably a little bit fast and loose and try and get away with a bit much.
“It’s just the mindset of remembering when someone wants to rile me up, I’m more than capable of ignoring it. I’ve had a reputation for years and part of me relishes it. At international level it helps me stay a little bit more focused because there’s a lot more to lose.”