England prop Joe Marler insists he doesn’t hold anything against Eddie Jones for not starting him in tje Rugby World Cup final – admitting South Africa probably would have still won anyway.
Jones has conceded he made two big mistakes with his team selection against the Springboks.
In his new autobiography My Life and Rugby, the Australian coach says he should have started Marler instead of Mako Vunipola at loosehead prop and should have reverted to the Owen Farrell-Manu Tuilagi-Henry Slade midfield he put out against Australia.
Jones fielded the same starting XV that beat the All Blacks in the final against South Africa, but it backfired badly as England suffered a heartbreaking 32-12 defeat in Yokohama.
Marler joined the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast on Tuesday to reflect on the World Cup run, and he insisted there are no hard feelings with the coach over his decision.
In fact, the charismatic prop says he actually owes Jones a present for picking him in the squad in the first place.
Asked if Jones’ comments made him feel any better about missing out, he told talkSPORT: “Not in the slightest!
“But to be honest, whatever team he put out that day, I don’t think it would have stopped South Africa and the beast they were that day.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but we still lost the World Cup final. It doesn’t matter who played.
“And, leaving me out? Mate, I owe the bloke a few bottles of red for allowing me back in the first place after I retired for the second time!
“He’s a great character and I enjoy the way he coaches, I enjoy the way he carries himself and he’s great to have in the sport.
“At the end of the day, sport is entertainment, so you need some of that.”
After the sensational win over the All Blacks, Warren Gatland made the headlines by suggesting England may have ‘already played their final’, which did not go down well with Jones.
In hindsight, it appeared the Wales coach was pretty spot on, but Marler dismissed any notion that the team were not fired up to face South Africa.
And he could not hide the heartbreak he still feels over the team’s missed opportunity in Japan.
“You have to get up for any game you play,” he said.
“I wasn’t actually talking about England!”
“I was talking about my own experiences.”
“England were unbelievable in that semi-final, it’s difficult to repeat that.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) November 12, 2019
“To get up for the semi-final against the All Blacks is easy to do because it was the biggest game of our careers to that point, but then the following week that is the biggest game of our career because it’s the World Cup final.
“People are saying about us playing our final too early, we just came up against a team that were better on the day… oh it still kills me now, Christ!
“Boys, can we move on? Let’s talk about politics or something!”
But Marler wasn’t happy about the next topic of questioning, either – his international future.
Asked if is planning to pull on the Red Rose shirt again, the 29-year-old replied with a smile: “Oh, you lot are sneaky aren’t you!
“You’re always, ‘I want that headline, I want something to say in the next round of news headlines’.
“Well, I’m not giving you it, Alan. I’m not giving you it!
“This is my cliché answer – I am purely focused on this weekend’s game, Harlequins vs Bath at The Stoop… if selected obviously. So that is the answer you’re getting!”