Joe Marler shock inclusion in England’s pre-World Cup training squad

Joe Marler the shock inclusion in England’s 38-man Rugby World Cup training squad as prop comes out international retirement

  • Joe Marler retired from international duty with England a year ago
  • He comes out of retirement despite Mako Vunipola’s injury improving
  • Danny Cipriani is also included in Eddie Jones’ 38-man squad
  • Jones will trim down his squad to 31 for World Cup in Japan in September 

Joe Marler is the shock inclusion in England’s Rugby World Cup training squad after being lured out of Test retirement to join preparations for the tournament in Japan.

The 28-year-old Harlequins prop is among 38 players named on Thursday by head coach Eddie Jones, along with the contingents from Premiership finalists Saracens and Exeter, who have finished their rest periods. 

It was widely expected that Marler would only be called upon in the event of an emergency, but instead he has been selected despite the latest indications being that Mako Vunipola, the country’s leading loosehead, being on course for a prompt return from hamstring surgery. 

Prop Joe Marler is a shock inclusion in England’s pre-World Cup training camp

England World Cup training squad 

PROPS (7): Dan Cole, Ellis Genge, Joe Marler, Ben Moon, Kyle Sinckler, Mako Vunipola*, Harry Williams

HOOKERS (3): Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jamie George, Jack Singleton

LOCKS (5): Charlie Ewels, Maro Itoje, George Kruis*, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes

BACK ROW (6): Tom Curry, Lewis Ludlam, Brad Shields, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola, Mark Wilson

SCRUM-HALVES (3): Willi Heinz, Ben Spencer, Ben Youngs

FLY-HALVES (3): Danny Cipriani, Owen Farrell, George Ford

CENTRES (5): Piers Francis, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Manu Tuilagi

BACK THREE (6): Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, Jonny May, Jack Nowell*, Ruaridh McConnochie, Anthony Watson

*in rehabilitation 

This represents a major U-turn by both Marler and Jones. The player had repeatedly emphasised that he had no wish to be involved in a strenuous summer of training camps, so soon after the arrival of his third child. And Jones had suggested that he would not seek to change the mind of a man who stood down for personal reasons.

Responding to this unexpected turn of events, Jones said: ‘I saw Joe during the Barbarians week and he indicated that he had a desire to come back. We have since had a couple of chats and we have given him the opportunity to do that. Now it is up to him to show us what he has got.’ 

Eddie Jones has sprung a surprise by including Marler in a 38-man squad

Based on his stellar form in the second half of last season, Marler still has a huge amount to offer England.

Elsewhere, Gloucester fly-half Danny Cipriani is included – as reported by Sportsmail on Wednesday night. 

Among the fringe candidates, Bath flier Ruaridh McConnochie will be given a chance to maintain his late emergence as a World Cup bolter, while Northampton flanker Lewis Ludlam has been retained ahead of another rising rookie, Alex Dombrandt of Quins.

The London club’s experienced full-back, Mike Brown, has been omitted – while there is apparently no way back now for his team-mate Chris Robshaw, or another recent ex-captain, Dylan Hartley.

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