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What Harlequins have made of the England release of Joe Marler

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Tabai Matson has admitted he is in the dark about what this week’s release of Joe Marler back to Harlequins means for the loosehead in the bigger England picture for the remainder of the Guinness Six Nations. The seasoned prop was a used replacement off the bench in the recent matches versus Scotland and Italy but he wasn’t included in the squad of 25 that has assembled for fallow week training in London.

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This decision potentially frees up Marler to appear for Harlequins in their Gallagher Premiership match this Saturday at home to Wasps. It was four weeks ago when he last started a match, playing against Castres in a Heineken Champions Cup tie which ultimately left him missing the England training week in Brighton as he picked up Covid for the second time this winter.

Eddie Jones has retained Ellis Genge, the starting England prop in rounds one and two of the Six Nations, and the unused Bevan Rodd for this week’s training camp gathering in London, leaving Marler, who played a total of 31 minutes across the two Test games, excluded and available for his club if they want him.

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Thing is, Harlequins boss Matson was unclear as of late Wednesday afternoon as to whether this release of Marler will have any ramifications regarding his England squad selection for next week’s round three Six Nations game at home to Wales.   

“I can’t comment on that. I honestly don’t know,” he said at his weekly media briefing. “I’m sure and I think there is a bigger picture, he is not going to compromise the Six Nations campaign so this could be perfect for him leading into that Welsh game as well, but I have no idea to be fair. I haven’t spoken with Eddie since well before the tournament started.  

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“I always say it is a blessing when someone comes back for a fallow week or for wherever reason it is. Joe did say before the tournament, ‘If for whatever reason in those fallow weeks I am not getting game time I’d love to come back and play for Quins’. That is a testament to the man. Clearly, that has happened and we are very happy that he is going to be rolling in. 

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“It’s a fallow week for England so we have been given the news that he is going to come back along with Louis Lynagh, who has been with us the last couple of weeks. That is always positive. Joe loves the club and it is clearly always good for us when there is a Joe Marler on the field in the Quins jersey.

“He is a talisman. Guys like him when he is standing on the field next to you he lifts the people around him, absolutely. There is no science behind that but having him on the field makes other people play better. One, because he leads. Two, because he is a critical part of our team at loosehead. Against Sarries we got dusted up in that area so having him in the mix will definitely make a difference.”

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