Eastbourne’s Joe Marler continues to impress on the International-stage following his England selection to face Fiji on Saturday (tomorrow).
Marler will take his place on the front row for the test at Twickenham, where he’ll play as loose-head prop.
The 22 year-old made his debut for England in the summer, where he played three bruising tests against South Africa in South Africa.
Joe studied at Heathfield Community College and began playing for Eastbourne Sharks Rugby Club when he was 11-years-old.
Having made swift progress in the game, he represented Sussex from Under-14 level, before being called up to the London and South-East side.
He started his club career at Worthing, before signing professionally at Premiership giants Harlequins.
A meteoric rise saw him play with England Under-18’s in Argentina and then the IRB Junior World Championships in Japan.
Soon after he received a call-up for the England Saxons, and made his debut against Italy A in 2011.
Marler has become a household name at Harlequins, impressing many including his director of rugby Conor O’Shea.
O’Shea said, “Joe is 22 and he is going to get bigger and stronger and that is a scary thought for anybody,”
“He holds his discipline really well, has an edge and he will be an exceptional player for England.”
There is strong competition for his spot in the England line-up from London Irish prop Alex Corbisiero, who will soon return to full fitness.
Marler said, “Corbs is a very good player and we will fight tooth and nail for that position.
England forward coach Graham Rowntree said, “Front-row forwards, more than any other forward on the field, have to experience the coal-face and learn.
“Joe has demonstrated a lot of experience at dealing with pressure, he is playing at a consistent level every week.
“What I see now is a thorough professional and he has quickly become a settled international forward.
“I thought his performances for us in South Africa were very good, against some of the biggest forwards in international rugby, and his performances this season have been consistent.
Marler said, “It is important how I play this weekend, but I don’t think, ‘Corbs is coming back, I’d better push hard’, I think, ‘I’d better push hard because that is my job for the team.’”
Before the match, he said he would draw on his experiences in the summer against South Africa to his advantage.
In particular, a brutal 20-minute spell against South Africa in his second-test had a profound effect on Marler.
“Personally and as a group, that first 20 minutes in Johannesburg was a massive learning curve. I hadn’t experienced anything quite like that.”
South Africa had rampaged into an early 22-3 lead, but England went down 36-27.
Marler looks to have overcome a tight hamstring problem, as Worcester’s Matt Mullan had originally been called up as cover.