Mako Vunipola has come out in support of Joe Marler after the Harlequins prop withdrew from England’s Six Nations squad due to personal reasons.
Marler, who toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2017, announced his decision on Twitter yesterday explaining that he “wants to do right” by his family.
Always grateful for the opportunity so not an easy decision, but want to do right by my family in these crazy times and won’t be meeting up with the squad for this tournament. Look forward to watching the team rip in. Go well 🌹 x
— Joe Marler (@JoeMarler) January 25, 2021
The Harlequins prop announced his retirement from international rugby in 2018 but made himself available for selection for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Despite being announced in Eddie Jones’ 36-man squad for the upcoming Six Nations Championship, Marler has opted to walk away from international rugby again, for the time being at least.
‘It would be very tough for him to give his best.’
Vunipola, who has played with Marler on many occasions, told RugbyPass that he supported his fellow prop’s decision.
“It’s a tough one not being able to give your all when you are player of Joe Marler’s calibre. It would be very hard to have him come in and be thinking and battling two things. It would be very tough for him to give his best.
“That is just me speaking from my experiences and we are aware of the impact on the country with people struggling to make ends meet, being home alone and being locked up in your house. It’s difficult for their mental health.
“You don’t take being able to play for England for granted and it is a privilege in these difficult times. Going into the bubble is something you have to get your head around and you do make sacrifices to get to this level of playing for England and it’s not easy.
“The older I have got – and having a young family of my own – I completely understand because when I was younger the older guys would come into the England camp and be struggling, not physically but mentally being away from family for such a long time,” Vunipola explained.
England have also lost another key player in Joe Launchbury, who was ruled out after breaking his leg while training with his club Wasps.