Marler: We'd win World Cup tomorrow
February 14, 2013
Joe Marler has replaced the injured Alex Corbisiero in the England scrum © Getty Images
Prop Joe Marler insists high-flying England would back themselves to win the Rugby World Cup if it started tomorrow.
Stuart Lancaster's side are in a superb run of form at present, having beaten New Zealand impressively in December and made an excellent start to the Six Nations with two wins from two. Victories over Scotland at Twickenham and Ireland in Dublin have made the rugby world sit up and take notice, with some already looking towards the World Cup on English soil in 2015.
Talk of England lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in over two years' time is clearly premature but Marler and team-mate Owen Farrell admit the tournament is on their mind in the long term.
"If it was to start tomorrow, we'd back ourselves to win it," Marler said. "It's a little bit of an English thing in most sports, getting ahead of ourselves somewhat. But we're on a journey. We're on a journey as a team and each time we pull on that shirt it's another step towards that ultimate goal of a home World Cup in front of your own fans.
"That's our main goal. But we'll be focusing on the process in between then and now because it's still two and a half years away, so we've got lots to do before then."
Farrell is similarly cautious but also well aware of the side's long-term ambitions.
"The World Cup is a long way away," he said. "There's obviously loads of rugby to be played before then but that's when everyone wants to peak and that's what we want to build towards. As long as we keep going in the right direction, we'll be in good stead."
Headlines have been dominated this week by British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland's controversial comments about selecting English players for this summer's tour of Australia. The Kiwi had said in an interview that taking a lot of English players on the tour of Australia could lead to a media circus and bring unwanted pressure on the Lions.
But Gatland maintains he will pick the side on merit and made that point to Lancaster during a pre-arranged visit to England's training camp this week. Marler admits the comments amused rather than annoyed the squad.
"We had a bit of a giggle," he admitted. "I think he came out and said he was mis-quoted or something but for the boys, it's irrelevant. We're concentrating on the next game. As individuals throughout the squad, I'm sure a lot of the boys have got it at the back of their minds that they want to go on that tour but it's about the team first, here and now.
"You're not going to get on that tour unless you perform in these games and these games are what counts and we're just concentrating on those."
Lions contender Farrell said Gatland's visit this week was a low-key affair. He said: "It was all right. He just kept himself to himself, really, just watched training and sat in on a couple of meetings. You didn't really know he was there.
"It's got no bearing on what's happening in our camp, we've just got to focus on our next game and play well. Anything that comes on the back of that will be a bonus for anyone."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside