Eddie Jones has given England prop Joe Marler kudos for the way he has handled his mental health issues, a topic the loosehead went public with in advance of the recent publication of his autobiography. Marler’s candid admissions were viewed as a positive step forward in tackling the stigma about men opening up on how they are feeling. 

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The 30-year-old skipped England’s 2016 tour to Australia because of how he was feeling and he later temporarily retired from Test rugby as a means of trying to cope with his situation. 

Marler returned in time to help England reach last year’s World Cup final and Jones is now hoping the prop can shake off his current injury and play a part in the six-match programme that is now in the horizon.

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“Joe is an intriguing character,” said Jones. “He brings a lot of value to the team. He is an enormously good teammate. We have seen him at times personally struggle a bit. What I have enjoyed about him is his honesty in being able to say where he is at that moment and what he needs. 

“Most of the time we have been able to accommodate that. Sometimes, as you saw with the Australian tour, he wasn’t in a position to tour and we couldn’t accommodate him and he couldn’t accommodate us so we gave him a break.

“But I hope that he overcomes his knee injury and he is back in competition for an England spot. That is our hope, and I hope his book sells well,” continued the England coach, who added that his desire is to have a healthy mental health team environment that can bring the best out of people.   

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“That is always the case. I don’t think it is any different now. The circumstances for everyone in life is a little different and we need to be aware of that and take that into consideration in how we structure the team environment. 

“For young and old people particularly at the moment, they probably experience the greatest anxiety and we’ll make sure we have the necessary support for them – but they have also got to understand how grateful for this opportunity to play for England and play sport at the top level. 

“When the world is in a bit of a difficult situation they have got a great opportunity to play rugby, a great opportunity to represent England I expect them to be full of beans and ready to go and if they need supporting in other areas we will make sure we have got the right support for them.” 

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