Marler withdraws from England's Australia tour


Prop Joe Marler has ruled himself out of selection for England's tour to Australia next month to enable himself to be ready for the start of the 2016-17 Premiership campaign with Harlequins.

Marler has had a mixed season for club and country with on-field acts of indiscipline hampering his progress in the front row.

The 25-year-old featured in all five games of the Six Nations as England won the Grand Slam, but he was later banned for two matches after calling Wales' Samson Lee "gypsy boy".

On his return to club rugby he was the centre of attention again after appearing to aim a kick at the head of Grenoble's Arnaud Heguy in the European Challenge Cup semi-final.

He was suspended for two weeks, but was able to return for the continental final - Quins going on to lose 26-19 to Montpellier.

With his season now over Marler - who would have been part of head coach Eddie Jones' touring squad - has opted for a break ahead of next season.

"It has been a very enjoyable but sometimes difficult season," Marler told the Rugby Football Union website.

"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 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 team-mates 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."

His announcement disappointed Jones, but the Australian offered Marler his full support.

"Joe played brilliantly during the Six Nations and he will be a big loss in Australia," said Jones.

"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."