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Graham Rowntree: Joe Marler will bounce back from second ban in rapid succession


Harlequins prop Joe Marler has received a two-week ban after being cited for foul play

Harlequins prop Joe Marler has received a two-week ban after being cited for foul play

Harlequins prop Joe Marler has received a two-week ban after being cited for foul play

Former England forwards coach Graham Rowntree has given his backing to Joe Marler following the Grand Slam winner's second ban in rapid succession.

Harlequins prop Marler has received a two-week suspension after being cited for kicking Grenoble hooker Arnaud Heguy during last Friday's European Challenge Cup semi-final.

England international Marler, who was making his comeback appearance following a two-week ban imposed for his "Gypsy boy" slur against Wales' Samson Lee in last month's RBS 6 Nations Championship game at Twickenham, is sidelined until May 9.

But Rowntree, who will coach Marler again from this summer in his new role as Quins forwards specialist, said: "I don't think it is a serious issue for Joe.

"He has had a couple of blips. A bit of extra work from him and us, and I am sure he will be fine.

"It is not an issue in his game. I think he is approaching world-class standard as a prop. His Six Nations proved that.

"We will sit down with Joe and have a look at his game and how we can make sure this isn't going to happen again, without getting too het up about it. I back him to deal with everything going forward - he is an experienced, class player."

Asked whether someone like Marler could benefit from sports psychology, Rowntree, who worked with the likes of renowned sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters during his England tenure, added: "Not just for Joe. Everyone can benefit from it.

"That mental side of the game can clarify what you are thinking. We can all learn a bit from it. It is something (new Quins rugby director) John (Kingston) has been adamant about doing, and I look forward to seeing what he does there.

"But let's nail this thing about Joe. I don't think it's a serious problem.

"He is a class player. We just need to sit down with him to talk about what we're going to do going forward, without making it a massive obstacle that he thinks he has to overcome."

Marler's latest suspension means that he will miss Quins' remaining two regular season Aviva Premiership games against London Irish and Exeter, but he will be available for their Challenge Cup final appointment with Montpellier in Lyon on May 13 and England's three-Test summer tour to Australia.

Marler, 25, was reported by match citing commissioner Iain Goodall following the first-half incident involving Heguy at the Twickenham Stoop five days ago.

An independent disciplinary committee, though, disregarded Marler's earlier two-week suspension because it was "of an entirely different nature".

In a statement, Challenge Cup organisers European Professional Club Rugby said: "A disciplinary committee consisting of Roger Morris (Wales), chairman, Simon Thomas (Wales) and Kathrine Mackie (Scotland) heard evidence and submissions from Marler, who accepted that he had committed an act of foul play but who did not accept that the foul play warranted a red card, and from Richard Smith QC on behalf of Marler.

"In upholding the citing complaint, the committee found that Marler had committed an act of foul play that warranted a red card. It determined that the offence was at the low end of World Rugby's sanctions and selected four weeks as the appropriate entry point.

"In deciding to disregard the player's recent suspension as it was of an entirely different nature, the committee then reduced the sanction by two weeks - 50 per cent of the entry point - before imposing a suspension of two weeks."

Marler initially escaped censure for his taunts against prop Lee in England's 25-21 Six Nations victory over Wales at Twickenham on March 12.

Global governing body World Rugby later intervened and called a misconduct hearing, however, dissatisfied with the leniency of Six Nations and Rugby Football Union bosses. Marler admitted the charge and was banned for two matches and fined £20,000.

Marler's England colleague, Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell, has also received a two-week ban after being cited for a dangerous tackle on Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson during last Saturday's European Champions Cup semi-final in Reading.

EPCR said that an independent disciplinary committee heard evidence and submissions from Farrell - who did not accept that he committed an act of foul play - during a hearing in London on Wednesday.

Farrell, 24, will miss Premiership appointments with Newcastle on Sunday and then Worcester six days later, but he will be available for Saracens' Champions Cup final clash against French challengers Racing 92 on May 14.