Suspension sidelines England prop Marler for opening rounds of Six Nations

Suspension sidelines England prop Marler for opening rounds of Six Nations”

Joe Marler will miss the start of the Six Nations after he was handed a six-week suspension at an independent disciplinary hearing.

Prop Joe Marler will miss England's first two Six Nations rugby matches after he was issued a six-week ban on Tuesday.

Marler was sent off in the 58th minute of Harlequins' 30-29 defeat to Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday for striking TJ Ioane with his shoulder.

And that means Red Rose boss Eddie Jones is now likely to turn to uncapped rookie Beno Obano to be his back-up loosehead prop for the matches against Italy and Wales.

The 27-year-old is no stranger to disciplinary hearings, having already served a three-match ban last year for an incident involving Wasps forward Will Rowlands that led to him being unavailable for selection for the opening autumn worldwide against Argentina last November.

The panel's chairman, Philip Evans QC, said in statement: "The panel found that contact was made with the head of TJ Ioane and as a result the mandatory entry point is mid-range".

In Marler's absence, Bath's uncapped prop Beno Obano is likely to be retained by Jones after featuring in a two-day training camp in Brighton at the start of the month and could well find himself in the match-day squad to face Italy in Rome on 4 February, while Sale's Ross Harison could also benefit from the ban after being called up to an England training squad a year ago.

He will be free to return for the matchup with Scotland at Murrayfield on February 24.

Ioane, a Samoa worldwide, received a two-week suspension for striking Marler with his arm.

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