A former teammate of Joe Marler has told a brilliant story of how a young Marler, eager to impress early in his career, bit off more than he could chew playing against Munster. Harlequins secondrow Olly Kohn and Jordan Turner-Hall were recalling their historic win over Munster in Limerick in the European Challenge Cup. The visitors had been written off before heading to Ireland in 2011, going in as massive underdogs to the rugby fortress that is Thomond Park.

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Kohn takes up the story: “One thing that really stands out to me that day, early on the game, you had this 18, 19-year-old young Buck in Joe Marler, who no one really knew about.

“He had one of his horrific haircuts. But he had this ridiculous attitude: really, really aggro. Really aggressive. No one knew who he was and he had a mohawk.

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Marler was up against 6’5, 135kg Munster tighthead Tony Buckley, the heaviest player to ever lineout for Munster.

“He was up against this absolute beast in Tony Buckley, who was a ginormous man at tighthead. So the scrum pops up (I’m behind Marler) and Marler was just like ‘I’m going to go for this guy. At the moment I’m not a particularly great scrummager technically, but I’m just going to go for him’. So he gets in his face and just gives him some real good chat.

“I’m like ‘you’re literally stirring a monster’. Next minute Tony Buckley goes down and gets in the perfect position and just pops every single one of Marler’s ribs up. You just hear ‘brrrrrup’. Marler hits the deck and is in all sorts of problems. Fair play to him, he carries on, but that was a mistake.”

Marler responded to the story on Twitter, jokingly pointing the finger at Kohn. ‘I blame the lack of support from behind…’.

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Harlequins became, at the time of the game in 2011, only the second team to win at the stadium in European competition in 16 years. Marler, of course, has gone on to a stellar and colourful career for Harlequins and England.

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