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Joe Marler feared for his season after disciplinary problems

Published 10/05/2016

Joe Marler has sought help from sports therapist Jeremy Snape
Joe Marler has sought help from sports therapist Jeremy Snape

Joe Marler expected to miss England's tour to Australia and feared for his Test future after kicking Grenoble hooker Arnaud Heguy in the head.

The England prop has revealed those concerns for his Test career led him to seek the help of sports psychologist Jeremy Snape.

Marler admitted huge relief at the reprieve of a two-week ban that will see him return for Harlequins' European Challenge Cup final clash with Montpellier in Lyon on Friday night.

The 25-year-old explained England boss Eddie Jones told him "wind your neck in", to ram home the point that any more disciplinary lapses could jeopardise his Test career.

Quins front-rower Marler has laid bare his battles for controlled aggression, admitting England's World Cup failure left him paranoid over criticism he now admits "didn't exist".

"I didn't think I'd play again this season," said Marler, who has had several sessions with former England cricketer-turned sports psychologist Snape.

"I thought I'd be having the summer off as well, I thought I'd get a ban that would take me off the (Australia) tour.

"I'm very lucky to be in a position to pull on the shirt for Quins again and even luckier that it's a final and a chance to get hands on a trophy. Very lucky.

"I'm raring to go, chomping at the bit to get out there and prove to myself more than anything that I am capable of playing a game of rugby on the edge without being a d***, basically."

Marler compounded his "Gypsy boy" slur on Wales' Samson Lee in the Six Nations by kicking out at front-rower Heguy in Quins' 30-6 Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Grenoble.

Just 26 minutes into his comeback after that controversial comment and eventual ban for abusing Wales front-rower Lee, Marler found himself in hot water again.

Those closest to Marler laud a colleague as candid as he is fiercely loyal, despite the abrasive, blunt edge that often meets public glare.

Marler himself believes England's disastrous World Cup tipped him over the edge from niggly competitor into a disciplinary lapse waiting to happen.

Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team paid with their jobs for England becoming the worst-performing hosts in World Cup history; now Marler has explained his own personal fallout.

"The World Cup was meant to be the biggest experience of our lives, the highest point of our careers, and we blew it," said Marler.

"We won't have a home World Cup again as a group.

"It was that lack of admission that it was actually our fault, let's blame something else, let's not look within ourselves.

"The World Cup was the turning point for me. I'll be honest I had an impression that I thought there was a complete lack of support (from the media), an air that people were waiting for an opportunity for something to f*** up.

"That was my mindset, and that's not me saying that is how it was, but that is how I thought things were.

"From a personal point of view I took a bit of a bashing, during that World Cup, and as a team we were complete flops.

"Mentally I just went inside myself and was like 'sod this', fingers up to everyone.

"There wasn't any sense to what I was thinking, it was just easier to crawl under a shell and tell everyone to p*** off than it was to actually confront people or talk reasonably or rationally with people.

"I look back on it now, actually looking back and thinking on it, my mind frame was the cause of things that didn't even exist there."

While Marler remains confident he is winning his own personal battle of wits, he fully accepts taskmaster England coach Jones will not stand for any further disciplinary wrangles.

"The last couple of months just was the final nail really, to go, 'actually, stop pretending that I can keep dealing with it on my own'," said Marler.

"I'm getting there. I'm not sitting here saying I have a lot of problems or I'm a complete nut-job.

"I'm saying there's stuff that needs addressing in and out of rugby that I'm getting hold of now. It is making me feel better and so hopefully I can continue on that.

"Eddie Jones has been in touch and he's been pretty firm. As well as being supportive it's more in a 'come on mate it is time to wind your neck in' way.

"You can only be supportive so many times can't you? If I go out on Friday night and kick someone else in the head then I don't think that he is going to be supportive any more. There is a limit to his support."

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