Ban rules prop out of Six Nations openers
DISCIPLINARY UPDATE: Defending Six Nations champions England will be without prop Joe Marler for at least the opening two matches of the tournament.
Marler was slapped with a six-week foul play ban.
The 27-year-old - whose career has been bedevilled by disciplinary issues - was handed the suspension by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel after being sent off at the weekend in his club Harlequins' 29-30 Premiership loss to Sale.
Marler will definitely miss the games against Italy on February 4 in Rome and against Wales at Twickenham a week later - the ban ends just four days before their third match against Scotland at Murrayfield.
"Joe Marler of Harlequins appeared before a disciplinary panel, after receiving a red card from referee Matt Carley during Saturday's Premiership match against Sale Sharks," read the RFU statement.
"He was sent off in the 58th minute for striking with the shoulder and making contact with Sale Sharks' Thomas Ioane.
"Marler pleaded guilty to the charge and was suspended for a period of six weeks."
Marler's colourful disciplinary record also counted against him.
"The panel considered that the player's previous record was such that it required an additional period of suspension of one week,"the statement said.
However, because of his plea, his conduct since the incident took place and other personal mitigation, the panel allowed some reduction.
"He is available to play again on 20 February 2018."
The panel comprised Philip Evans (chairman) - with Aidan O'Brien and Becky Essex.
Ioane received a two-week suspension for striking Marler with his arm.
The Samoan flank admitted to the charge and will miss Sale's two upcoming European Challenge Cup matches.
Ioane consented to the matter being dealt with on papers and pleaded guilty to the charge.