Eighteen months after his last international appearance, Joe Marler is back in the England reckoning as part of a preliminary training squad currently out in Italy; England head coach Steve Borthwick will announce his 33-player Rugby World Cup squad on August 7
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 12/07/23 10:58pm
Joe Marler has revealed he was convinced to chase his World Cup dream again by looking England head coach Steve Borthwick “in the eye” to determine whether he was a “liar”.
Eighteen months after his last international appearance, the 33-year-old Harlequins loosehead is back in the England reckoning as part of a preliminary training squad currently out in Italy.
While he has been given no assurances about a place in the World Cup squad, which will be announced on August 7, Marler admitted he was persuaded to chance his arm after a frank conversation with Borthwick.
“I said to him…I needed to come and actually speak to you face-to-face, look you in the eye and see if you’re a liar or not,” said Marler, speaking to several national outlets in Verona.
“I said ‘I don’t trust anyone, but you can tell a lot about someone from their eye contact. So I need to look you in the eye and ask you if there’s a real chance of getting in your 33 (World Cup squad). But you’re saying there’s a chance if I work at it, not a guarantee but a chance, then I’m all yours’.
“Then he did the longest blink in history. It felt like a minute, before finally opening his eyes and saying ‘Joe, there’s a real chance that if you work hard enough, you can make it in my 33’.
“So that was the meeting with Steve. It was a weird encounter – for Steve mainly.”
Marler announced his international retirement in 2018 but reversed the decision a year later ahead of helping England to the World Cup final, where they were beaten by South Africa in Japan.
He made the last of his 79 Test appearances in last year’s Six Nations, but now back in the fold, the prop is motivated by the possibility of a third World Cup campaign – and going one step further.
“Imagine if we could go from the low of the 2019 (final) to 2023 and shock the world and lift that trophy,” he added. “That’s a massive driver for me.”