Joe Marler is only too aware that retirement is beginning to loom large and when the time comes rugby’s most colourful character will have no problem walking away from the sport, writes Paul Eddison.
The England prop saw his season brought to a close away at Saracens last weekend, Harlequins’ Premiership defence falling at the semi-final hurdle to their bitter London rivals.
While Marler featured in every game of England’s Six Nations campaign, coming off the bench in all five matches, he was omitted from Eddie Jones’ squad for their summer tour of Australia.
Marler has previously stepped away from England duty, but this was entirely down to Jones, who went with long-time loosehead rival Mako Vunipola instead.
That is a decision that Marler accepts, coming to terms with the fact that the end of his career is approaching, and the chance to spend more time with family is one that he relishes.
“Missing a lot of my son’s football tournaments, they often trigger me to go ‘Oh Christ, do I really need to be running into 20-stone blokes who are just going to belt me week in, week out?’ rather than having a beer watching my son play in a football tournament,” said the 32-year-old, who has partnered with supplement brand Bioglan for their first series ‘In Bioglan Balance’ alongside influencer Mat Carter to show how he finds balance in his busy life.
“But at the same time, I get there as much as I can, I support him and the other kids as much as I can whilst knowing that I haven’t got long left. It won’t be long until the boots are finally hung up for the 15th time. So I’m just trying to make the most of that, it’s all I can do really.
“At this rate I won’t even make the end of this contract, the club will tear it up before then.
“I’m technically signed until July 1st 2023. So I’ve got one more year after this but contracts aren’t worth the paper they are written on are they?
“In terms of what to go into, I’ve no idea. I guess that is part of what I’m going through at the moment, knowing that my days are numbered. I’m on my last contract. My England days are done.
“So what’s next? Rugby doesn’t set you up for life. It gets your foot in the door, it gives you great opportunities but you’ve got the rest of your life that you have to pay for, so what can I do? I’m trying to work that out now but I can honestly tell you, I haven’t got a definitive clue of what that is.”
It sounds as if Marler has already drawn a line under his England days, but later in the interview it is clear that the fire still burns.
The ball, however, is very much in Jones’ court.
He added: “I met with Eddie and he said we don’t need you for this campaign. I said I’m still available, if he wants me, he can have me, if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. I’m content with that. I won’t rule myself out with that, I’d love to go to another World Cup. But also, I’m really aware that there are loads of really good players out there. What will be, will be.
“If he was to turn around and say ‘thanks for everything but we’re not going to go with you anymore’, I would be content with that and happy with, not all of it, but some parts of what I’ve achieved.”
Marler came within 80 minutes of winning a World Cup under Jones, while also going on a Lions tour in 2017.
But while he readily admits he has enjoyed the benefits of being an elite rugby player, it would appear that his own future will be away from the oval ball.
He added: “There is not a chance in hell you will see me, you can quote me on this until the cows come home, as a rugby coach. Can you imagine? I’m just trying to picture someone trying to coach me, I feel so sorry for the coaches here.
“I love rugby, I absolutely love it and it’s given me wonderful experiences and I’ve met some incredible people and it’s given me a wonderful life but I am not passionate enough about it like you need to be to coach and develop, even as a pundit, to do that. I haven’t got enough in me to do that.
“You look at someone like Gary Neville or Jamie Carragher or Roy Keane and why they are such good highly-held football pundits is because you listen to them for 30 seconds and they are so passionate about the sport, they love it. They are so good at getting you to understand the nuances and the little things, ‘fuck trying to do that in rugby because I can’t do that’.”
Joe Marler has partnered with supplement brand Bioglan for their first series ‘In Bioglan Balance’ alongside influencer Mat Carter to show how he finds balance in his busy life. To watch the series, visit @bioglansupplements on Instagram