England Under-20 prop Joe Marler is heading out to Argentina for the IRB Junior World Championship full of confidence having tamed Tiger Julian White.
Marler came off the bench to made his league debut against Leicester’s Martin Castrogiovanni towards the end of the season for Harlequins and just days later found out he would be propping against destructive tighthead White in the Guinness Premiership A League final.
Not only did looshead Marler hold his own but most observers say he shaded the contest with newly installed Quins boss Conor O’Shea demonstrating his faith in him by making him of five senior props at the Stoop next season.
“I was told the week before I would be starting in the A-League final and when I saw the Tigers team there were three British Lions in their team including White,” said Marler who has spent the majority of the season propping for National One champions Esher.
“He is renowned as the best scrummager in the country and someone I grew up looking up to – just to play against him for me was a huge achievement.
“But to hold my own was incredible. We knew he was the corner stone of their pack so me and hooker Aston Croall decided to go to work on him.
“There were a few exchanges both physical and verbal but that performance has given me a huge amount of confidence going forward.
“Playing for Esher I have come across quite few old-school props who try and school you. They will try and wind you up as well but I have learnt not to rise to it.”
It is not just his scrummaging, Marler has attracted attention for having crossed 14 times for club and country including a candidate for try of the season against Wales Under-20s.
But the one blot against his time came in last year’s Junior World Championship and a red card in a Pool match against Japan which effectively ended his tournament.
Coach Mark Mapletoft though has offered him an opportunity of redemption as one of six players reselected for the tournament – and it is a chance Marler is hellbent on seizing.
He said: “The red card was a big blow and I was set in the changing room thinking I let myself, my team and my country down.
“We had been poor first half and we came out fired up for the second half. I thought their hooker had taken out one of our players in the air so I punched him.
“There was not a thought process behind it – it was just a case of the red mist descending.
“It has made me more determined to do well in this tournament. With due respect to Japan I didn’t want to just play 40minutes against them; I wanted to test myself against South Africa and New Zealand.
“But it was a really good learning experience for me. I have learnt I have to control my temper and bite my lip.”