Harlequins and England prop Joe Marler has sparked an online debate among rugby fans about player welfare in the Gallagher Premiership. The restarted 2019/20 top-flight season will have seen the loosehead’s club play seven games in 31 days after they finish up at Gloucester next Monday.

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That will then extend out to nine games in 51 days by the time their Premiership backlog ends at Leicester on October 4. Marler’s appearance versus Bath last Saturday meant he had started in four of Harlequins’ five matches so far, clocking up 271 minutes on the pitch over a 22-day period. 

Although creating a Twitter debate isn’t necessarily a difficult task in this day and age (in fact, anything typed by a celebrity is likely to lead to tonnes of bile in the comments section), Marler’s recent comments have proven inflammatory. 

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He tweeted: “9 games in 7 weeks……… what a bloody fantastic idea that was,” referring to the game-load that Premiership players currently have. The 30-year-old is certainly not the only player to voice concern. 

However, his tweet was like a red rag to a bull to some people with keyboards who were quick to question how much he is paid while also suggesting that he could retire. The Premiership’s five-month rest period between the March stoppage and the August restart was also mentioned. 

Comments like this, in turn, evoked another response from fans who agreed with Marler highlighting the physical toll of being a professional rugby player. 

Player welfare has been a point of discussion since the Premiership returned last month, and the topic has only intensified given the revelations by former players Dylan Hartley and James Haskell about the state of their bodies in retirement. 

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Hartley’s recently released book explained the price he paid with his body, an issue which Haskell expanded upon on here on RugbyPass and on his podcast. Being a player that has never shied away from voicing his opinion, Marler, who himself is publishing a book next month, has now provided his views in typical terse fashion. 

Yet while players will inevitably succumb to injury during this intense schedule, the true effects of this season may only come to light in the next campaign or beyond, particularly when looking at the calendar that lies ahead for some players that are aspiring to play for the British and Irish Lions in 2021. 

https://twitter.com/Perky_Originale/status/1302918212133294081?s=20

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