Joe Marler: Harlequins' 'world class' prop key to Premiership final chances

Joe Marler
Joe Marler made his Harlequins debut in November 2009 and has gone on to play 225 times for the club

Joe Marler’s leadership has been key to Harlequins’ run to the Premiership final, says team-mate Alex Dombrandt.

The England and British and Irish Lions prop is one of a handful of Quins players who played in their only Premiership triumph in 2012.

Marler’s half-time team talk helped inspire Quins to fight back from 28-0 down to beat Bristol last week.

“He leads; when he speaks everyone listens, and what he has done on the field is world class,” Dombrandt said.

World Cup finalist Marler, who has won 72 England caps and was a Lions tourist to New Zealand four years ago, was so key to Harlequins last week that the club flew him to Bristol in a helicopter after he had stayed behind at his Kent home to attend the birth of his fourth child.

“I don’t think there’s many loose-head props out there that can do what he does on a regular basis,” Dombrandt added. “He’s amazing for us and hopefully he can put another of his massive shifts in on Saturday and help us to win the trophy.

“Everyone’s looking at him and he’s been there and done it. He’s played on the biggest stages, in front of the biggest crowds against the biggest teams, so to be able to lean on him and gain his experience is so very beneficial to us as team.”

Danny Care (left) and Joe Marler
Danny Care (left) and Marler are the only players who started Harlequins’ 2012 Premiership final triumph who started last Saturday’s semi-final win at Bristol

Marler and scrum-half Danny Care – as well as hooker Joe Gray – are the only players who started the 2012 final available to play on Saturday against reigning champions Exeter after full-back Mike Brown was suspended last month.

Quins face an Exeter side that have reached their sixth successive Twickenham showpiece, but England hopeful Dombrandt says the belief he and his team-mates showed to reach the Premiership final can take them to the title.

Their comeback from 28-0 down at table-toppers Bristol in last week’s semi-final was the biggest in Premiership history as they went on to win a dramatic semi-final 43-36 in extra time.

The result saw Quins become the first fourth-placed side to win a semi-final over the league’s top side since Saracens beat Northampton in 2015.

“The belief never wavered, and even though we were 28-0 down we still believed that we could turn it around,” Dombrandt told BBC Radio London.

“We believe that we can beat Exeter. We don’t want to give them the head start that we gave Bristol, because a quality side like Exeter will look to close it out.”


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