Marler back from ban for Harlequins semi-final against Grenoble


Joe Marler will make his return from suspension in Harlequins' Challenge Cup semi-final encounter with Grenoble at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday.

Marler initially went unpunished for calling Samson Lee "gypsy boy" while representing England in the 25-21 victory over Wales at the Six Nations in March.

However, World Rugby stepped in and handed the prop a two-week ban and a fine payable to a UK charity, ruling him out of the quarter-final victory over London Irish.

Having served his suspension, Marler has been immediately restored to the line-up as they look to maintain a successful period for English rugby.

Following England's Grand Slam triumph at the Six Nations, three Premiership clubs have made the Champions Cup semi-finals, while Quins will be looking to win the Challenge Cup for a fourth time.

Conor O'Shea's side have been in brilliant form in continental competition this season, securing five bonus-point victories in their pool and topping the try and points-scoring charts.

Grenoble are making their first appearance in the semi-finals, but Quins centre Jamie Roberts knows they cannot be underestimated.

"I played against Grenoble a few times over the last two years and they are a quality side who are obviously well coached so it will be a huge challenge for us," Roberts told the club's official website.

"But we are at home, so it is up to us to go and impose our game on them.  It is a great opportunity for us to make a final.

"The focus has to switch away from the league onto knockout rugby and you only get one shot at this stage. On Friday there will be no second chances."

Quins may be the competition's highest-scoring side, but Grenoble boast the most prolific player in this season's competition in Jonathan Wisniewski.

They fly-half has accumulated 67 points in just four appearances - 62 of which have come from his boot - and will likely prove influential to any success the French side have.

However, the absence of number eight Rory Grice due to a hand injury is a blow for Grenoble.

Key Opta stats:
- Harlequins have averaged the most carries (128) and clean breaks (13.9) per game this season and have gained the most metres in the process (545).
- Grenoble have boasted the best kick success this year, successfully landing 90 per cent (38/42) of their shots at goal.