Joe Marler admits to trying to get red carded to miss England games
Joe Marler has revealed he used to try to pick up yellow and red cards in order to get a suspension to give him “an easy out” to miss England games.
Marler announced last week that he was retiring from international rugby at the age of just 28 because he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Explaining his decision in an interview on The Rugby Pod, Marler said that concerns about spending long periods away from his family used to affect his mood and he would deliberately seek bans to miss international camps.
“The anxiety I would get about having to leave and go away again would manifest itself in giving away 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,” said Marler.
Marler’s disciplinary record would appear to back up his claims. He missed England's first two Six Nations games this year after being banned for six weeks for a dangerous clear-out of a ruck in a Premiership match.
He was also suspended for England’s match against Argentina because of a three-week ban striking Wasps' Will Rowlands with his elbow in a Champions Cup match.
Marler admitted that his ill-disciplined behaviour had returned again before the national camp in Bristol last week.
“I played like an absolute helmet which often happened around England time,” he said. “That mindset manifested itself. After that game, I said: ‘I can’t keep doing this. It’s not fair on my family; it’s not fair on the club.’ ”
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Marler, who has 59 caps and represented the British and Irish Lions twice, had previously pulled out of the 2016 England tour of Australia to take "a short rest from game" because he felt he would be letting his team-mates and country down if he had toured.
He said his conversation with England head coach Eddie Jones had been short when he broke the news of his international retirement.
“It was short. The relationship with I had with Eddie, based on what I did in 2016 and the Australia tour, he knew that if I had decided something , then that was it. I pulled out of that tour. So there wasn’t a lot of chat he could give to change my mind.”
Marler admitted he had weighed up the financial implications of his decision, with England players picking up fees of around £25,000 per match, going into the World Cup year but insisted it was the right decision for him and his family, having come close to retiring before the tour of South Africa in June.
“It’s the right time for me to stop now for me, for my family but also for England,” said Marler when announcing his decision. “You have got to give 100 per cent to something. I don’t feel I can give 100 per cent to the England shirt any more and that is not fair on the team.
“It’s not fair on my family, the time you have to spend away from them in order to commit to England. I can’t do it any more. Now is the right time for me to walk away and get some new blood in there.”