(Reuters) – Retired England rugby union prop Joe Marler has said he tried to get banned from national team assignments by deliberately picking up yellow and red cards during matches.
Marler, who won 59 caps for his country, announced his retirement from international rugby at the age of 28 last week to spend more time with his family.
“The anxiety I’d get about having to leave and go away again would start to manifest itself in giving away even more dull penalties and looking for outs, looking for a yellow card, looking for a red card,” Marler told The Rugby Pod.
“Because if I could pick up a ban, that’s an easy way out without actually pulling the trigger.”
Marler helped England to win Six Nations titles in 2016 and 2017 but missed the start of this year’s competition after picking up a six-week ban.
England suffered three losses in the tournament as the defending champions finished a dismal fifth.
Marler said he decided to retire from internationals after courting a suspension while playing for club side Harlequins against Bristol.
“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’,” Marler added.
“It (retirement) hasn’t felt like a big decision because I’ve been thinking about it for some time. I really enjoyed my time with England but as soon as I had kids, it completely flipped my perspective.”
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by David Goodman)