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'I didn't get an email. Bit gutted': Joe Marler reveals he won't be a 2021 Lions pick


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England prop Joe Marler has admitted he is a bit gutted at being overlooked for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in July. Marler’s name will be missing when Warren Gatland announces his 36-man squad on Thursday to take on the Springboks after he revealed he was not among those to be contacted by the Kiwi in advance.


Gatland wrote to in excess of 50 players to inform them they are in contention in the belief that some might not want to travel to South Africa because of the coronavirus pandemic. Marler missed the Six Nations for family reasons and the Harlequins prop is disappointed that he will not be touring with the Lions for a second time having been present in New Zealand four years ago.

“I didn’t get an email. Bit gutted. I’m not surprised, but I’d have loved to have gone. I’d love to have gone with a different approach to it than I did in 2017,” Marler said. “I remember sitting down talking to (former Ireland hooker) Rory Best on that tour. He said he regretted the way he had approached 2013 and the memories he had of it.

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“It was pretty obvious from the start that he wasn’t going to make the Test team and he let those feelings become bitter and cloud his enjoyment of the whole experience. And he wanted to make sure that in 2017, the midweekers didn’t make the same mistake that he did. And there was part of that for me in 2017.

“It was pretty obvious from the start that I wasn’t going to get a sniff of the Tests and I was a bit of a s*** at times. I regret having those feelings towards it. I still had an unbelievable experience and the friends I made for life, but I’d have liked to have gone back this time around and would have tried to help out.”

Marler was selected in England’s 2021 Six Nations squad but withdrew to be with his pregnant wife Daisy rather than in the squad’s bubble in south west London. The 30-year-old, who has openly discussed his mental health issues, pulled out of the 2016 tour to Australia and in 2018 announced his international retirement only to reverse the decision.


“If you are Warren Gatland, would you go: ‘It’s a pretty tight bubble, nine weeks away, it’s already tough enough as it is, do I need someone who has got form of struggling mentally and away from home?’,” Marler said. “Is that the right person to have on that tour? Probably not. Who knows? Maybe it’s because there are better players than me.

“There are pretty good players in the loosehead position before having to consider someone who hasn’t played international rugby for twelve months and has got form of not being that good at not being away from home.”

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'I didn't get an email. Bit gutted': Joe Marler reveals he won't be a 2021 Lions pick