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Joe Marler says he'll walk away from rugby if he misses RWC

By Ian Cameron
Joe Marler and Harry Randall of England prepare to sing the national anthem during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby match between France and England at Stade de France on March 19, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England prop Joe Marler has said he will walk away from rugby if he fails to be included in Eddie Jones’ plans for the Rugby World Cup next year.

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Marler, who has retired from international rugby in the past due to the lifestyle stress of Test rugby only to be drawn back in, has said he would ‘accelerate’ plans to leave the sport if he doesn’t make the flagship tournament in France.

England have recently recalled Saracens loosehead Mako Vunipola, while 27-year-old Leicester Tigers’ skipper Ellis Genge appears to be the future in the position for Jones.

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“The end is nigh,” Marler told Alyson Rudd in a wide-ranging interview in The Times.  “I would love to make it to the World Cup [next year] but that’s very much out of my hands. If there is a conversation with Eddie Jones saying I’m not in the plans for it, then I would accelerate life after rugby and concentrate on that, shut up shop at Quins and walk away from it.

Marler – who for a prop would be hanging up his boots relatively early at the age of 31 – doesn’t feel that his body could cope with more professional rugby.

“Can I manage to play another three or four years at this age? Probably not. But what do I want to do?”

In 2018 he announced his retirement from professional rugby a year out from the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He said at the time that: “It is an incredible commitment to play rugby for England and I strongly believe that if you are unable to give yourself fully to it then it is time to step away. Otherwise it would not be fair on the team, or my family. Being with England you have to spend an incredible amount of time away and I could not do that anymore.”

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He would return and featured for England in Japan. In 2021 he ruled himself out of England’s entire Guinness Six Nations title defence in order to be with his family during the coronavirus pandemic.

Marler runs a popular podcast and has been involved with the media in recent years, producing a documentary on mental health for Sky Sports. He signed a contract extension with Harlquins in 2020.

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