The Harlequins front-row signalled his intention to Eddie Jones that he has rediscovered the desire to play for his country again, having retired last September after deciding he did not want to spend long periods away from his family.
But the 28-year-old was the surprise inclusion in Jones’ final training squad, announced on Thursday afternoon, with a conversation between the pair after last month’s international against the Barbarians leading to his recall.
“I saw Joe during the Barbarians’ week and he indicated that he had a desire to come back,” Jones said. “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.”
Marler joins Ellis Genge and Ben Moon in the main 35-man squad as loosehead prop options, while Mako Vunipola is included as a fourth option with the Saracens prop remaining with the England set-up to continue his treatment on a torn hamstring.
Danny Cipriani has also been included, keeping his hopes for an international recall alive.
The Gloucester fly-half, named this year’s Premiership Player and Players’ Player of the Year, has not been capped since England’s tour of South Africa in 2018, but he has been given the chance by Jones to prove he deserves a place in the final 31-man squad that will travel to Japan in September.
Cipriani is joined in the squad by Northampton Saints pair Piers Francis and uncapped Lewis Ludlam, who is one of four players included who are yet to make an international appearance as Saracens hooker Jack Singleton, Gloucester scrum-half Willi Heinz and Bath full-back Ruaridh McConnochie also make the cut.
But there is no international recall for Harlequins trio Mike Brown, Chris Robshaw and Danny Care – along with their young teammate Alex Dombrandt who had been touted as a potential World Cup bolter – while the absence of Dylan Hartley entirely all but ends his chances of making the plane to Japan.
Jones has named Jack Nowell, George Kruis and Mako Vunipola as injured players who will complete their rehabilitation in-camp to remain in selection contention, but Hartley is afforded no such privilege as he continues to recover from knee surgery that has not seen him play a minute of rugby since December.
“We can’t wait to have the full squad in place and to have players competing for those 31 places. 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.”
On his selection decisions Jones said: “World Cup selection is a four-year process. We have looked at the squad carefully, tried to build up a squad that has enough experience, attitude and energy to be winners and I think we have that. In the process, we have left out some players who can feel unlucky. For those guys who have missed out, the door is never closed but they have just got to be ready, as you never know when the opportunity comes.”
Following two weeks of England training camps, Jones added: “The last two camps have been a head start for us. It has allowed the guys who didn’t play in the semi-finals or final to get some good conditioning work in and also some fundamental skill work so we expect them to set a high standard when the rest of the squad join us on 7July.
"The players have come in the best physical condition I have ever seen an England squad. The attitude of the players is that they are excited and hungry, they want to do well for themselves, their family and for their country."
Jones is due to name his final 31-man squad by World Rugby’s 2 September deadline, with the team flying out to Japan two days after their final World Cup warm-up against Italy, which takes place on Friday 6 September.
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