Joe Marler admits he used to get suspended to miss England duty
28-year-old Harlequins prop announced his surprise international retirement last week
Joe Marler has admitted to getting suspended on purpose in order to miss England duty. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Joe Marler has admitted that he would seek to get himself suspended to avoid England duty, having announced his surprise international retirement last week.
The 28-year-old prop, who has 59 England caps, revealed last Wednesday that he was calling time on his international career less than 12 months before the World Cup to spend more time with his family, adding that he was unable to fully give himself to the England cause.
During an interview with The Rugby Pod, Marler explained that he considered forgoing last summer’s tour of South Africa and admitted that in the past he would seek yellow and red cards as “an easy way out” of joining up with England.
Marler, who missed the first two matches of this year’s Six Nations due to suspension, said: “The anxiety I would get about having to leave and go away again would start to manifest itself in giving away even more dull penalties and looking for outs, looking for a yellow card, looking for a red card, because if I could pick up a ban, that’s an easy way out without actually pulling the trigger.”
The timeline of Marler’s recent bans chimes with his admission. His missed the Six Nations matches against Italy and Wales earlier this year after he was suspended for six weeks for a dangerous clear-out in which he struck Sale’s TJ Ioane in January. In October 2017 he was suspended for three weeks for striking Wasps’ Will Rowlands and missed England’s opening match of the autumn against Argentina.
Marler was named in the England squad to convene in Bristol at the start of last week but pulled out for “personal reasons” on the Sunday before his decision to retire was made public. The day before, during Harlequins’ defeat by Bristol he received a yellow card for a forearm to shoulder/neck area of the opposing scrum-half Andy Uren. “I played like an absolute helmet which often happened around England time,” he added.