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08th Mar 2022

“A nice, clean bar brawl, though. None of the dirty stuff” – Joe Marler

Patrick McCarry


“Gengey punched me four times. He put my nose that way and then that way.”

Whenever you see Joe Marler is coming up in the media rotation, you sit back and enjoy the show.

If Frank Lampard is the master of the quick-gag-then-serious-answer, the Harlequins and England prop is long-gag-rambling-tangent-funny-sidebar-serious answer. If you get a 60-second Joe Marler reply, you can be sure the first 30 or 40 seconds will be him ripping the piss.

So it proved again today as Marler was up for media duties to help preview England’s upcoming Six Nations clash with Ireland, on Saturday. Highlights included:

  • Training ground scrap jokes
  • Slagging older journalists over TikTok
  • Trying to recall past bar-room brawls
  • Tadhg Furlong the truffle pig farmer

Marler says there has been a step-up in intensity ahead of the clash with Ireland, this weekend. “There’s definitely a bigger sense of….‘Ok, Ireland are very good’.

“England vs. Wales games are always big and you know come kick-off it’s going to be tasty against them, but, with the greatest respect, Wales were missing a fair few names and there was probably a little more expectation on us to win that game. Whereas Ireland are full bore and have been together for some time now.

“It was definitely noticeable in training. Boys were like ‘OK, serious game this Saturday’. Not saying that last Saturday wasn’t serious because I know how sometimes the media can twist things. It’s a generalisation, I know, but just double checking and covering my own ass!”

When Marler was told former Ireland head coach Eddie O’Sullivan described games against England as ‘bar-room brawls’, the prop exclaimed, “Jesus!”

“I’m trying to think of the last bar-room brawl I was in… is it going to be like that?

“Nah. It’s going to be tough. They are very, very aggressive at the breakdown. They love chucking numbers in there. Off the top of my head, you get 40-plus attempts at attacking our breakdown, from Ireland. So it is going to be a ding-dong. And did you say that it was Eddie O’Sullivan that said that? It’s probably a fair assumption. I quite like that. A nice, clean bar brawl, though. None of the dirty stuff. No gouging or glass-throwing, just the clean stuff.”

Between Marler and Ellis Genge, the England looseheads will be tasked with taking on Leinster and Ireland tighthead Tadhg Furlong, at Twickenham. After going off the beaten track with his initial answer, Marler had plenty of nice things to say about Furlong, even when he was calling him ‘a massive lump’.


Having faced Furlong on many occasions for club and country, and toured with him to New Zealand in 2017 as a Lion, we asked Joe Marler what the Wexford native was like.

“I am still trying to work it out!

“He told me on that [Lions] Tour in 2017 that he is a truffle pig farmer and to this day I have still not worked out if he was trying to pull my leg or not. Do you use pigs for truffles?

“Then in terms of the stuff on the pitch, he is world class. I think he has actually stepped up his game around the field, particularly in an attack even more so this season. You have seen in this tournament that he is standing more at second and third receiver off the 10, so they are doing a lot of playmaking through him and he is just so comfortable on the ball.

“I try and think of it sometimes as a fan and you go, ‘Well, look at that massive lump on the field that you just think is going to bend over and push’. But then he is also so comfortable on the ball, his work rate, and it’s really good to see as a fan that he is, not ahead of the game, but the likes of him and Kyle Sinckler are just taking front-row play to another level.”

Furlong may only cross paths with Furlong briefly. Up from the get-go should be Leicester loosehead, and captain, Ellis Genge.

“Asked how Genge was coming on as a Test player, Marler replied, “His maturity has accelerated, and the leader that he has become in the group, and the respect he’s got off the whole group is huge. His knowledge is underrated. I think a lot of people see him as just this aggressive ball-carrier who is just in your face, but his knowledge of the game is second to none.

“And he’s really starting to come of age, in the sense of the set-piece work. Still learning, as in a lot of young boys are still learning, but he’s winning more of those battles than he was before, and he is also adding that abrasive carrying that he can do week-in, week-out in the Prem.

“He has not necessarily been able to do, because he has been doing it off the bench, in bit parts, previously. But now he is starting the games and he is showing his qualities there. Yeah, Gengey has been massive for us, and long may it continue.”

Asked what his rivalry with Genge was like, Marler was back to joking around (more than usual).

“As I said earlier, he punched me four times in today’s session. That’s up to him. If he wants to behave like that, that’s cool. I will get him back later.”