Joe Marler: England & Harlequins prop banned for start of Six Nations

England and Harlequins forward Joe Marler
Joe Marler has played 53 Tests for England and was part of the British & Irish Lions squad in 2017

Joe Marler will miss England's first two Six Nations games of 2018 after being suspended for six weeks.

The Harlequins prop, 27, was sent off for a dangerous clear-out of a ruck, in which he struck Sale's TJ Ioane with his shoulder, during Sharks' 30-29 win.

He will miss England's opening match in Italy on Sunday, 4 February and the home game against Wales six days later.

Ioane was banned for two weeks after pleading guilty to striking Marler with his arm earlier in the game.

Chairman of the independent panel at the Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing, Philip Evans QC, said Marler's previous disciplinary record meant he had initially been handed a seven-week ban.

But his guilty plea and his conduct since the incident saw the suspension reduced to six weeks.

Marler's ban ends on 20 February and he will be available for selection for England's away fixture against Scotland on Saturday, 24 February.

Meanwhile, academy players Gabriel Ibitoye, Dino Lamb, Niall Saunders and Calum Waters have all agreed extensions to their contracts with Quins.

Winger Ibitoye and back-row forward Lamb have both made Premiership appearances for the club this season.

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