Eastbourne’s Joe Marler will be in the thick of the Rugby World Cup action tomorrow (Saturday, 8pm) as he kept his place in the England side for their almighty showdown against Wales at Twickenham.
Marler’s place in the starting line-up was in doubt and it had been an anxious week for the former Eastbourne junior, but his name was on the team sheet as England boss Stuart Lancaster announced the side on Thursday morning.
The 25-year-old prop forward was one of four players replaced on 50 minutes during England’s first match in Pool A of the Rugby World Cup against Fiji.
England collected the maximum five points from their 35-11 triumph against the Pacific Islanders but the performance from Lancaster’s side was far from convincing.
Had the Fijians had their kicking boots on, an already tense contest would have been much tighter.
Lancaster made four changes on 50 minutes, with Marler, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan and Ben Youngs all making way for Mako Vunipola, Joe Launchbury, Billy Vunipola and Richard Wigglesworth respectively.
Marler made his debut in South Africa in 2012 and has established himself as regular in the England side.
As a prop, he is one of eight forwards in the side. They will come up against some of the most physically intimidating members of the Welsh team, with weight and power a major issue.
Marler is considered one of the world’s complete, modern day international forwards and alongside his power, he has speed and agility, particularly when carrying the ball.
The bruising opening game against Fiji was Marler’s 34th appearance for his country but against Wales , at Twickenham in a home World Cup, it is set to be the most important match of his career to date.
Marler retained his place but teammate George Ford was dropped to the bench and will be replaced by Owen Farrell.
Victory against Wales would be a huge boost for England’s chances of qualifing as group winners - particuarly with group rivals Australia failing to pick-up a bonus point during their victory against Fiji earlier this week.
England boss Stuart Lancaster said, “We’ve never said we were going to pick the same team week in, week out.
“We select it on a week by week basis, assess the performance and decide what’s best to play Wales.
“We have a lot of respect for the Wales coaching team and their players, they are a high-quality side and I am sure it will be some occasion on Saturday evening.”
England: Mike Brown; Anthony Watson, Brad Barritt, Sam Burgess, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola.