Joe Marler has revealed that banishing his family from the living room in order to watch England face Wales has sharpened his determination to address the indiscipline that has afflicted his career.
Marler returns when the NatWest 6 Nations resumes against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday week after serving a six-week ban for dangerous clearing out of a ruck, his second suspension of this season alone.
Eddie Jones has warned Marler over his conduct, viewing the prop as an important member of the squad while outlining the cost of his absence, especially amid an injury crisis at loosehead.
It is a message that has been accepted knowing that special moments are being snatched away by the short fuse that regularly blows.
“I was trying to watch the Wales game, but I couldn’t actually watch it,” Marler said.
“I got in the car just before kick-off and listened to bits on the radio. The radio in my truck is not that good so it was coming in and out. I got home for the last five minutes.
“England v Wales is my favourite fixture, the game I love playing in and being involved in most. I was gutted not being a part of it.
“Watching the last five minutes, kicking the kids and the wife out of the lounge, I was like ‘You need to leave – I need to watch the telly’. I had to turn ‘In The Night Garden’ off.
“It sticks with me that I really need to knuckle down now because I am missing out on these things that I really want to be a part of.
“It was fair – I’ve been cited twice in the last six months and spent nine weeks on the sidelines. There was no real argument from me.”
Marler has been present for the build-up to England’s victories over Italy and Wales and roomed at the squad’s Surrey training base with James Haskell, the player he feuded with on club duty when Harlequins faced Wasps in September.
In a slightly comical spat, Marler pulled off Haskell’s scrum cap and after being thrown to the floor as a result, he squirted water into the back row’s face as he walked away.
A further tangle ensued and Haskell, who has also missed the start of the Six Nations because of suspension, was sin-binned.
“It’s awful being in camp but not playing because there is no being managed in order to peak for Saturday,” Marler said.
“Me and Haskell have been up together at the crack of dawn – rooming with Haskell is an experience in itself – and then been flogged. Rightly so because we deserved a little bit as a punishment.
“Me and Haskell get on very well and we did at the time of that water fight. I couldn’t stop laughing, it was brilliant!”
Marler’s combustible temper is well known among rivals and the former Quins captain is equally aware that his disciplinary lapses happen on club and not international duty.
“People trying to wind me up has been happening for years. I’ve had that reputation for years and part of me relishes it a bit,” he said.
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