Joe Marler has admitted that he tried to pick up yellow and red cards during matches in an attempt to avoid having to go on England duty.
The 28-year-old announced his retirement from international rugby last week and has now admitted that he was sometimes so anxious about joining up with the national team that he deliberately got banned to avoid having to do so.
He told The Rugby Pod: “The anxiety I would get about having to leave and go away again would manifest itself in giving away more dull penalties and looking for outs, looking for a yellow card, looking for a red card, because if I could pick up a ban, that’s an easy way out without actually pulling the trigger.”
Marler says the trigger for his decision to retire was that he found himself again seeking trouble while playing for Harlequins against Bristol last month, just before he was due to join England’s training camp.
He admitted: “After that game, I said: ‘I can’t keep doing this. It’s not fair on my family; it’s not fair on the club’.”