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Joe Marler 'would have endured hostile reception in Australia'

England prop Joe Marler would have endured a hostile reception in Australia had he not withdrawn from the summer tour, according to Conor O'Shea.

The Harlequins front row has been mired in controversy this season after being banned for calling Wales' Samson Lee 'gypsy boy' and for kicking Grenoble hooker Arnaud Heguy in the head.

The decision to miss the Test against Wales on Sunday week and three-match series against the Wallabies on the grounds he is not in the right frame of mind to play international rugby was made in conjunction with England head coach Eddie Jones.

O'Shea, Harlequins' director of rugby, believes it is the right decision and recalls the hostility displayed towards Marler by Montpellier fans before kick-off in Friday's Challenge Cup final in Lyon.

"When I heard the reaction from the French crowd that he got when his name was read out in Lyon last weekend all I could think was 'thank God he's not on the pitch to hear that'," O'Shea said.

"I was down in Australia in 1994 and I remember trying to put in a contact lens, my picture being put up on the big screen, and someone saying, 'go back and put on your makeup!'

"You know Australia will not be backwards in coming forward and all things considered they have made the decision that is right for Joe in the long term.

"I know what he's gone through over the last few months and I respect whatever decision he and Eddie have made."

The pressure of a troubled season has taken its toll on Marler.

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

"After speaking to Eddie 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."


From Belfast Telegraph