Joe Marler ‘in hot seat for England’ after outstanding display, says Harlequins chief

Catching on | Joe Marler was a force with ball in hand, despite Harlequins losing to La Rochelle in the Champions Cup at the weekend: Rex Features

John Kingston says Joe Marler can hold on to the England No1 jersey after another impressive display despite Harlequins losing to La Rochelle.

Quins, who were beaten 34-27 in their opening Champions Cup game at home, next face Wasps at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday in the tournament. Wasps were beaten 19-9 by Ulster and two defeats in the pool stages would make it very difficult for either side to progress.

Quins director of rugby Kingston has given his players three days off to prepare and they head to Coventry having already won there in the Premiership this season.

Marler, who is in a battle with Saracens’ Mako Vunipola for the England loose-head starting place, was a real force with ball in hand, scrummaging well against 24st Uini Atonio and tackling effectively throughout.

England defence coach Paul Gustard watched one of the best games seen in England this season and Kingston said: “Joe was outstanding and has had two very big games since coming back from injury. He is right in there for the hot seat with England. We are still in the mix [in Europe] and have to go to the Ricoh and win.”

However, England full-back Mike Brown, who was back in action for Quins after an ankle injury, was far from happy with his team’s performance.

He said: “We want to make The Stoop a fortress and to allow the opposition 34 points in any competition is not good enough.

“We tried to force things and it comes back to our defence. We need to have a hard look at ourselves and individually it is not working in defence.

“It is good to be back but we didn’t win and I don’t feel good about myself if we don’t.”