England prop Joe Marler has admitted he is seeking help from a sports psychologist to “get a grip” after being banned twice recently for unsavoury incidents on the field.
Marler, 25, was slapped with a two-week ban for kicking a Grenoble player while playing for his club Harlequins in the European Challenge Cup last month.
The incident occurred during Marler’s comeback appearance after World Rugby imposed a two-game ban and fined him 20,000 pounds (25,400 euros, $28,900) for calling Welsh forward Samson Lee “gypsy boy” in a Six Nations international in March.
“That second ban it was like ‘hang on a minute, I need to get a grip of it now’,” Marler told BBC Radio 5Live in an interview to be broadcast Thursday in the UK. “I don’t think it was anyone else’s fault but my own.”
Marler said he was now seeing sports psychologist Jeremy Snape to address his “lack of professional control” and did not regret looking for help earlier.
“I don’t think I was willing to accept it until now, because things hadn’t really hit home yet,” Marler said.
“It’s been good so far,” he said of his sessions with Snape.
“I just explore different ideas, different things, different strategies to put in place to actually say your mind is a tool that you need to work as hard as you do in the gym or on the pitch during skill work.
“It’s just about whether you can unlock that or not.”
He also said that England’s head coach Eddie Jones had told him to “wind his neck in” before the tour of Australia in June.
Marler has completed his latest ban and will play for Harlequins in the Challenge Cup final against Montpellier on Friday, and is set to feature for England in their warm-up for the Australia tour against Wales on May 29.
But the 113kg (248lb) front-row forward admitted he feared a longer ban than two weeks for his use of the boot against Grenoble’s Arnaud Heguy.
“I didn’t think I’d play again this season,” said Marler. “I thought I’d be having the summer off as well. I thought I’d get a ban that would take me off the (Australia) tour.
“I’m very lucky to be in a position to pull on the shirt for Quins again and even luckier that it’s a final and a chance to get hands on a trophy.”