JOE MARLER has QUIT playing for England less than a year to go to the World Cup.
The 28-year-old has played 59 times for his country but said he wants to spend more time with his family.
He will carry on playing for Harlequins, where he has spent his whole Premiership career.
Marler shocked his Red Rose team-mates with his latest announcement having just pulled out of their Bristol training squad on Sunday.
The loosehead prop said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to represent my country.
“And of course this has been a very difficult decision to make, but I have decided to retire from playing international rugby with immediate effect to spend more time with my family.
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“It is an incredible commitment to play rugby for England and I strongly believe that if you are unable to give yourself fully to it then it is time to step away.
“Otherwise it would not be fair on the team, or my family. Being with England you have to spend an incredible amount of time away and I could not do that anymore.
“So now is the time to walk away and get some new blood in the team. And I am looking forward to being able to give my wife and children more of my time.
“I would like to thank everyone at England for the opportunities that I have been given. I will always be grateful for the memories playing for my country has given me.”
Marler has had a troubled international career and was fined £20,000 and banned for two games in 2016 after being caught calling Wales prop Samson Lee a “gypsy boy”.
That summer he also pulled out of England’s historic first ever series win in Australia.
Boss Eddie Jones has used Marler as his second-choice loosehead behind Mako Vunipola.
And the Aussie will now most-likely promote Ellis Genge, once fit, with Beno Obano and Ben Moon also expecting to fight for the vacant World Cup spot.
Jones said: “Joe is a great player and team member so I am disappointed and we will miss him.
“But he has made his decision on personal grounds and we understand his reasoning.
“He’s a good guy – an honest, mature person who understands the demands of the game and the demands of family life. I have got to admire his honesty and the way he has gone about this.”
Marler has played more than 170 times for Quins and won the Premiership at The Stoop in 2012.
He added: “Harlequins has been my life for the past 10 years and I have enjoyed some wonderful times here and I am looking forward to many more to come.
“We are hungry for success at The Stoop and I am determined to play a full part in achieving that again for the club.”