Joe Marler to line up against former England team-mates for Barbarians in Twickenham clash – but will he reverse international retirement?
- Joe Marler retired from England last year after winning 59 international caps
- Loosehead has been in superb form for Harlequins in recent months
- Barbarians boss Pat Lam asked if he wanted to play and he has accepted
- Appearance will lead to speculation about whether he’d reverse retirement
Joe Marler will play against England on June 2, after accepting an invitation to represent the Barbarians in their traditional, end-of-season encounter with the national team at Twickenham.
The 28-year-old Harlequins prop retired from international rugby last year, after winning 59 caps for his country since a Test debut back in 2012.
However, the loosehead has been in supreme form for his club in recent months and Barbarians head coach Pat Lam approached him to gauge his interest in a maiden appearance for the famous invitational team.
Joe Marler is to play for the Barbarians against England in the end-of-season game
There had been a delay in the process due to uncertainty about whether or not Quins would request a fee for their player’s services – and also because Marler’s wife, Daisy, is expecting their third child just days after he is due to face England.
However, Sportsmail understands that an agreement was reached on Wednesday and that Marler is now destined to return to familiar territory, in an unfamiliar kit.
His appearance will come at a time of feverish speculation about whether he might reverse his decision to retire from Tests.
In light of Mako Vunipola’s serious hamstring injury – which will keep the country’s pre-eminent loosehead out for three months – there have been rumours that Marler is in contention for a shock recall, and that he might consider it.
Mako Vunipola is injured and there has been speculation about Marler reversing retirement
At this stage, there appears to be no substance to this speculation. Sportsmail understands that England head coach Eddie Jones is not currently considering an approach to the Lion, and Marler is not thought to be interested in committing himself to a summer of fitness camps and time away from his young family.
In fact, his presence in the Barbarians line-up will serve to diminish any faint chance of this unexpected scenario coming to pass.
Instead, he will focus his efforts on trying to help Lam’s team produce a repeat of their stunning victory at Twickenham last May.
On that occasion, Chris Ashton was in the visiting side and his hat-trick helped the Barbarians storm to a momentous 63-45 win – achieved despite the traditional build-up of enthusiastic squad socialising in central London.
Marler has been in superb form for Harlequins and will face his old England team-mates
This time, the England XV will be even more vulnerable, as it will be made up of rookies and fringe players who are unlikely to feature in the World Cup training squad to be named on July 4.
Jones is not even on duty team for the match. Instead, former Northampton head coach Jim Mallinder, now working with the national age-group teams as an employee of the RFU, will be in charge.
His squad is due to be named on Monday and those chosen face a monumental challenge.
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