Joe Marler has ruled himself out of England’s Test against Wales and the three-Test tour to Australia after admitting he is not in the right frame of mind for international rugby.
The prop has been mired in controversy this season after being banned for calling Welsh front row Samson Lee ‘gypsy boy’ and for kicking Grenoble hooker Arnaud Heguy in the head.
His decision was made in consultation with England head coach Eddie Jones after they spoke at the squad’s training camp in Brighton and means he will no longer face Lee at Twickenham on Sunday week.
The pressure of a troubled season has taken its toll on Marler and the 25-year-old has chosen to rest instead of facing Wales and then the Wallabies over three Tests in June.
“It has been a very enjoyable but sometimes difficult season,” Marler said.
“After speaking to Eddie I have decided that the best thing for me is to take a rest and not go to Australia.
“Whenever you play for England you have to be 100 per cent and unfortunately I’m not in that place at the moment.
“It’s not a decision I’ve come to lightly, but I feel I would be letting my teammates and my country down if I were to tour.”
Marley will take the time off to recharge his batteries with the blessing of Jones.
“Joe played brilliantly during the Six Nations and he will be a big loss in Australia,” Jones said.
“Joe knows better than anyone what it takes to be part of a winning international team and he obviously doesn’t feel like he’s quite there at the moment. We fully support Joe’s difficult decision and admire his honesty.
“He’s a young man with a very bright future. There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll use this time wisely and come back feeling refreshed and ready to be part of England again.”
Marler has turned to Jeremy Snape, the former England cricketer turned sports psychologist, for help in managing his temper.
Conor O’Shea, Harlequins’ director of rugby, believes it is the right decision.
“I was down in Australia in 1994 and I remember trying to put in a contact lens, my picture being put up on the big screen, and someone saying, ‘go back and put on your make-up!’. You know Australia will not be backwards in coming forward,” O’Shea said.
“All things considered they have made the decision that is right for Joe in the long term.
“I know what he’s gone through over the last few months and I respect whatever decision he and Eddie have made.”