"Absolute nightmare" - Joe Marler misses first day of England's training camp - Ruck

“Absolute nightmare” – Joe Marler misses first day of England’s training camp

England prop Joe Marler was unable to join the first day of the England training camp ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Marler, who last represented England in the 2022 Six Nations tournament, had been included in the squad, along with Bath scrum-half Ben Spencer, who was making his return after being out of the squad since 2019.

Unfortunately for Marler, due to a series of cancellations, he found himself stranded in Paris and was unable to train with the group in the sweltering conditions.

This setback could prove to be a significant blow for Marler, especially considering that he had reportedly experienced a fallout with Steve Borthwick, resulting in him being overlooked for the Six Nations.

With the likes of Bevan Rodd, Ellis Genge, and Mako Vunipola vying for a spot in Borthwick’s final squad, Marler now faces an uphill battle as an outsider. Danny Care, who last played for the side during the previous summer, has also been recalled.


However, players from Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks, and Saracens, who were involved in the Premiership semi-finals, were not considered for selection.

On a positive note, Billy Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, and Ollie Chessum will participate in the training camp as they continue their recovery from respective injuries.


Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia)

Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.

“But I go for Folau – only just, I should stress – because of his ability to seemingly beat his man every time he gets the ball in his hand. He’s such an exciting player and like Leigh he is one of the best under the high ball.

“It’s a toss of a coin for me… and it’s come down in Folau’s favour.”

Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.

“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.

“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”

Fixtures for the Six Nations - Round 1

Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.

“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”

Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

Owens said: “He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.

“What a player, mind, too. One of the stalwarts of the New Zealand side for so many years.”

Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)

Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.

“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.

“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”