Joe Marler on why Lions 'Geography Six' didn't get a proper chance in New Zealand 4 years ago

Joe Marler on why Lions 'Geography Six' didn't get a proper chance in New Zealand

"It's not f***ing happening, mate."


In between the First and Second Tests of the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, in 2017, Warren Gatland's side took on the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Kristian Dacey, Cory Hill, Tomas Francis, Gareth Davies Allan Dell and Finn Russell all joined George Kruis and Leigh Halfpenny on the Lions bench. The tourists blew a 31-17 lead to draw the game but, from that six, only Scotland outhalf Finn Russell got off the bench.

Gatland later told reporters that the late call-ups (four Welshmen and two Scots) did not get a decent run out (or any run-out at all) because of the negative reaction from the media to their arrivals in New Zealand. Dell did get a short cameo off the bench in an earlier midweek game but none of the Welsh call-ups did.

Finn Russell in action against Hurricanes. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

However, many of the Lions playing squad were against the idea of these additions to the squad being parachuted in so late into a tough tour. During his appearance on JOE UK's House of Rugby, England prop Joe Marler, who played all 80 minutes of that game, gave his take on that Hurricanes match.

Asked by host Alex Payne if the senior squad felt the call-ups, commonly known as 'The Geography Six'. did not merit Lions caps as they had not truly earned them, he replied, "It wasn't quite like the way you said it.

"Graham Rowntree was on the side, doing the subs, and it was a tight game. It was quite tight and there were about 10 minutes to go. There was a pause in play and it was like, 'Lads, I'm f***ing blowing here. Put your foot on the ball. Chill. Coley [Dan Cole] is blowing!'

"And I looked over and saw 'Wig' (Rowntree) warming the boys up and telling them to get ready. And I was like, 'Wig, it's not happening, mate. It's not f***ing happening'. Because he was my coach at Harlequins and we had a good relationship.

"I said, 'It's not f***ing happening, mate. We're going to see this job off and win it'.

"We didn't. We actually drew 31-all and we could have done with them coming on as fresh legs, and maybe winning it. But, you win some, you lose some... or you draw some."


One year on from that big call, Marler repeated it in what may yet turn out to be his final game for England. Leading against South Africa in Cape Town, the Quins loosehead twice resisted suggestions that he would be subbed off in the final minutes.

Marler ended up playing the full 80 minutes as England got a win to snap a worrying losing streak. The very definition of backing oneself.

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Episode 19 sees Alex Payne joined by James Haskell and Joe Marler to discuss leaf-blowers, retiring from England duty at 28, refusing to be subbed and the upcoming third round of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.