England’s hopes of winning the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time were dashed in the semi-finals of the 2023 tournament by South Africa but soon attention will turn to the 2024 Six Nations.
Having shown he’s still more than capable of impressing at Test level, Brighton’s Joe Marler can still have a big role to play for England going forward.
From Retirement To World Cup Journeys
Marler had previously called time on his international career in September 2018, before later reversing his decision to play for his country again. With Marler back in the squad, England managed to beat the mighty New Zealand on their way to the 2019 World Cup final in Japan, before losing to South Africa.
The Boks, who are 6/5 in the Rugby World Cup 2023 odds to retain the title this year, again were England’s undoing in the semi-finals – this time in Paris. The South Africans managed to edge a 16-15 thriller at the Stade de France and face 8/11 shots New Zealand in the odds for betting on rugby. It was a cruel end for England’s World Cup campaign, which saw the Red Rose improve as the tournament progressed.
Marler, like the rest of the squad, also appeared to grow into the competition as England’s confidence grew. Head coach Steve Borthwick and his side came into the World Cup on French soil with little in the way of expectation from the public back home. However, they managed to finish top of their pool, before dispatching Fiji in the quarter-finals.
Few gave England much hope for the semi-final in Saint-Denis but England were just a matter of minutes away from a return to a World Cup final. Following a third-place playoff with Argentina, Marler and the rest of the England squad can head back across the Channel with their heads held high.
Marler Still Has Plenty To Offer
While there are some players like fellow forward Courtney Lawes who have played their last game for England, it looks like the 33-year-old Marler still has much to give in a white shirt. The Harlequins prop, who is a massive Brighton & Hove Albion supporter, brings a competitive edge to the front row and a wealth of experience. Marler made his 77th appearance for England when starting the semi-final against South Africa. That experience will be key for the Red Rose going into the Six Nations, especially if Borthwick decides to blood fresh faces around Marler in the pack. The loosehead gets through plenty of work around the field at the breakdown and his 114kg frame is more than useful at scrum time.
England will need a blend of experience and fresh faces at this upcoming Six Nations Championship in the new year if they are to stand a chance of finishing top of the pile. The 2023 Grand Slam winners Ireland and runner-ups France are out in front as the teams to beat next year. England begin the 2024 Six Nations with a trip to Italy, before facing Wales at home, followed by a trip to Scotland. Ending the tournament with a home game against Ireland before a trip to Paris, England will be hoping they can also improve in that competition as it progresses.
Given his efforts at the World Cup this year, Marler should be part of Borthwick’s plans going forward and would be a welcomed site for England fans at the next Six Nations Championship.