England head coach Eddie Jones insists Joe Marler will continue to be considered for future selection after he withdrew from the Six Nations squad.
The Harlequins prop, whose wife is expecting their fourth child, pulled out of the squad and stressed he wanted to ‘do right by my family’ and forgo the Six Nations.
Players within Jones’ 28-man squad will operate within a bio-secure bubble to limit exposure and risk to a Covid-19 outbreak.
And Marler, who reversed his decision to retire from international rugby in 2018 to go on and play at the World Cup in Japan, has received the full support for his decision from Jones.
“Joe has made a decision that we 100 per cent support,” Jones said.
“When he decides to make himself available again we will have another look at selection. And that’s how we look at it – 100 per cent. No ifs or buts, it’s as clear as day.
“There will be some time in the future when he’s ready to come back and will get selected. We’ll take that when it comes.
“Joe has been an outstanding player during my time with England and I’m sure he was outstanding before that.
“He is tough, abrasive, a good defender, a great guy off the field. He’s a bit nutty, but we like that, it’s good to have characters like that in the squad.”
Marler is one of three senior forwards to drop out of the squad, joining Joe Launchbury and Sam Underhill on the unavailable list.
Launchbury has a stress fracture of his tibia and Underhill is struggling with a hip issue, but both should recover before the end of Six Nations, raising the prospect of their return in the latter rounds.
But Jones is assured of the team’s depth and adaptability to retain the Calcutta Cup when England meet Scotland in their Six Nations opener.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. As weird as it seems for a head coach to say, it excites me.
“We’re going to have to work a little bit harder, we’re going to have find solutions with the new guys coming in and we’ll have to work harder to get those connections right.
“We’ve got someone like Ellis Genge now and he’s now the elder statesmen in the squad in terms of props.
“Four years ago he was a young kid on the block, so that shows how the team has evolved. This is a great chance for us to evolve and adapt so we’re excited.
“Some of the younger guys who have had lesser leadership roles will have to step up to the mark. It’s a great chance for us to keep moving forward as a team.”
Jones has been working while in self-isolation after assistant coach Matt Proudfoot tested positive for Covid-19.
“I’m in my last day of isolation, day nine and a half! I break out of prison at 1pm tomorrow (Thursday) and will be racing up the road to St George’s to join the squad about 4pm,” Jones said.