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Jones calls Marler ‘one of the best’ after England retirement U-turn

The prop has been included in England’s Rugby World Cup training squad.

Eddie Jones welcomed Joe Marler back to the fold (John Walton/PA)
Eddie Jones welcomed Joe Marler back to the fold (John Walton/PA)

Eddie Jones hailed Joe Marler as “one of the best props in the world” after the Harlequins star came out of retirement to join England’s Rugby World Cup training squad.

Marler last represented his country on the June 2018 tour to South Africa, before retiring for personal reasons.

However, the 28-year-old has now reversed that decision to be included in Jones’ 35-man party.

“We’ve kept in contact, it’s not a conversation in isolation that led to him coming back,” said Jones of Marler.

“We’re delighted to have him back and ready to compete.

“At his best he’s one of the best props in the world.

“We saw that particularly in the third Test against South Africa. That was outstanding.

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Joe Marler came out of retirement to be included (Paul Harding/PA)

“He wants to come back in, he wants to compete, he’s not guaranteed a spot and he’s got plenty of competition.

“I saw Joe during the Barbarians week and he indicated that he had a desire to come back.

“We have since had a couple of chats and we have given him the opportunity to do that. Now it is up to him to show us what he has got.

“We can’t wait to have the full squad in place and to have players competing for those 31 places (in the final World Cup squad).

“It is a process of building the team up, building the cohesion, the tactical understanding of the team and our adaptability. We will need to get those things right to win the World Cup, and that is our aim.”

Danny Cipriani has made the cut, with his Gloucester half-back team-mate Willi Heinz also included, but Dan Robson and Mike Brown miss out.

Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler is back in the squad after a hamstring scare.

England are determined not to rule out Dylan Hartley, even though the former captain has been omitted from this squad and continues to struggle with knee problems.

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Dylan Hartley is not included in the squad (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Asked about Hartley, Jones said: “We don’t know, that’s the answer.

“Certainly we’ll continue to monitor his progress, but at this stage he’s unfit.”

Jones also backed injured trio George Kruis, Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell to be fit in time for the start of the World Cup.

Asked if those key performers would be ready come the September kick-off, Jones said: “100 per cent, yeah. They are all progressing well.

“When they are available we’re not sure, but we think they will all be available for the World Cup.”

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Eddie Jones has backed George Kruis to be fit for the World Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

England must submit their final 31-man World Cup squad on September 2, before kicking off their tournament against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22.

Jones revealed England will have their final 31 sorted well in advance of the September deadline.

“We’ve had four years to pick a squad for the World Cup, we’ll know our final 31 on August 12.

“We’ve got a pretty good idea of where we are. There’s competition in some places, we’ve got the skill, experience and collective desire to win the World Cup.”

We've had four years to pick a squad for the World Cup, we'll know our final 31 on August 12 Eddie Jones

Head coach Jones took the already-assembled training squad on a surprise lifeguard course in Newquay this week.

England now have their full contingent together and will ramp up their preparations.

Jones’ men face Wales twice, Ireland and Italy in four warm-up matches in August and September, before jetting out to Japan.

Gloucester fly-half Cipriani won the Gallagher Premiership Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Year awards in a sterling first campaign with the Cherry and Whites.

Now the 31-year-old has the chance to push for a final World Cup place.

PA

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