Marler out of June Tests

by AFP

England forward Joe Marler has made himself unavailable for his country's forthcoming three-Test tour of Australia at the end of a controversial campaign.

Marler was set to be selected in Eddie Jones' tour squad despite a difficult season, but on Wednesday it was revealed he has instead decided to take the opportunity to rest ahead of next season. 

The 25-year-old was slapped with a two-week ban for kicking a Grenoble player while playing for his English Premiership club Harlequins in the European Challenge Cup last month.

The incident occurred during Marler's comeback appearance after World Rugby imposed a two-game ban and fined him 20,000 pounds (25,400 euros, $28,900) for calling Welsh forward Samson Lee "gypsy boy" in a Six Nations international in March.

Instead of rehabilitating his reputation with England,Marler, who has 42 caps, has opted to take a short break from the game and will miss an international against Wales and the subsequent tour to Australia.

"It has been a very enjoyable but sometimes difficult season," Marler said in a statement released by the English Rugby Football Union.

"After speaking to Eddie in Brighton 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 percent 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.

"I think a short rest will really help me recharge my batteries so I can start next season with the energy and focus that's needed to perform at the highest level.

"I wish my team mates the very best in Australia in what is a hugely exciting and challenging series for England."

Marler recently admitted he is seeking help from a sports psychologist to "get a grip" of his behaviour and Jones was supportive of the prop's decision to take a step back from the international stage.

"Joe played brilliantly during the RBS 6 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."