Joe Marler has been quick to dig the boot in after Manchester United suffered a bruising defeat to Brighton at the weekend.
The prop forward caught the limelight after his strange intervention lead to England’s second try of their 34-12 win over Japan.
Steve Borthwick’s side had looked far from fluent in the game, but ended up victors after putting four tries past an organised Japan defence in Nice on Sunday.
With England pushing for a score at 13-12, fly half George Ford fired a pass at Will Stuart, only for it to go clean through his hands and into Marler’s head, unwittingly putting captain Courtney Lawes in behind the defence to dot down.
Marler himself was quick to post a tongue-in-cheek TikTok comparing his headed exploits to Cristiano Ronaldo’s famous header, and in his post-match conference he claimed to draw inspiration from Brighton.
Joe Marler joked that he drew inspiration from Brighton’s 3-1 win over Manchester United for his own header
The Seagulls pulled off a memorable Old Trafford win to secure four league wins on the trot over Erik ten Hag and Co
The ball crashed off his head and allowed Courtney Lawes in behind to dot down under the posts
Speaking to Sky Sports after Sunday’s win over Japan that put England top of Pool C, Marler joked that he had been preparing for headers ahead of the game.
‘I was practicing with Dan Cole and Jamie George in our activation back in the hotel, we were doing some of that (mimes heading the ball), getting us fired up’ the 33-year-old claimed.
‘I take huge inspiration from Roberto De Zerbi’s mighty Seagulls doing a demolition job on United yesterday. Just taking huge inspiration from them and helping the boys score.’
And Brighton were quick to respond on X, formerly known as Twitter, joking that there might be a place in the starting XI for the prop if he was interested in a cross-code switch.
‘Great win last night, good luck for the rest of tournament! Give us a call when it’s finished, we’ll need you for set pieces,’ the Seagulls’ admin joked.
Team-mate and stand-in captain Lawes – who benefited from the bizarre deflection jokingly praised Marler’s efforts, adding: ‘That was a decent header from Joe Marler. Sometimes the luck falls in your favour so I will take it.’
Marler hails from Eastbourne, about 20 miles up the South Coast from the Seagulls home.
England would go on to score two more tries as they secured their all-important bonus point in victory.
Brighton’s win over United saw boos ring out at Ten Hag’s decision to withdraw Rasmus Hojlund as the Red Devils make a shaky start to 2023-24
England star Marler compared himself to Cristiano Ronaldo in a hilarious TikTok posted after the Japan win
After Lewis Ludlam was first to cross for Steve Borthwick’s side, Lawes dotted down under the posts to put England a converted score ahead for the first time in the encounter.
Freddie Steward then latched on to a well-timed cross-field kick from Ford for the third, touching down in agile fashion after claiming the high ball.
Joe Marchant then ensured the extra point with the last action of the game, the outside centre diving for the line.
As for Marler’s beloved Seagulls, it was Danny Welbeck, Pascal Gross and Joao Pedro with the all-important goals, with Hannibal Mejbri’s 73rd minute effort scant consolation for the embattled Ten Hag.