England and Harlequins loosehead prop Joe Marler has been praised for speaking so openly about his mental health in a recent interview with The Daily Mail. The 30-year-old provided a candid and unembellished account of his battle with depression throughout his career, particularly after ‘Gypsygate’ in 2016 and after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.  

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Given the uncompromising persona he has created on the field and his cheerful and light-hearted character off it, this revelation has shocked many people, which is why he has been praised all the more for opening up. 

Former Scotland international Rory Lawson succinctly summarised what many others have shared online, saying on Twitter: “Joe Marler is so good for rugby. Yes, he’s had a few indiscretions along the way but he fronts up and talks in a candid, open manner that is so relatable. This article is an outstanding example of how perceptions can be so wrong when assessing headlines and on-field action.”

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Similarly, England legend Jason Leonard said of Marler: “I truly hope his brave words help other players and fans alike if they are going through similar hard times.”

One of the main takeaways from this interview that has been echoed by many people on social media is that this could have a resounding impact on other players going through similar experiences as the Englishman. 

The two-cap British and Irish Lion may not have necessarily ingratiated himself with fans around the world throughout his career for his antics on the field, but there are very few that are not full of admiration for what he has now done off it. 

There has traditionally been a stigma around discussing mental health in rugby, and indeed all sport, but that is one that is rapidly eroding, and honesty like this will only help break down those barriers further. 

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Marler’s autobiography Loose Head will be released in October, which will provide greater depth into his battles throughout his career. 

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