England and Harlequins prop Joe Marler is considering quitting rugby with immediate effect after receiving a ten-week ban for grabbing Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones by the genitals.

The 29-year-old received widespread backlash after his bizarre act in England’s Six Nations win over Wales at Twickenham earlier this month.

And after receiving a ten-match ban, Marler is now considering walking away from the sport for good.

The wave of abuse directed at him in the aftermath of the incident lead to him deactivating his Twitter and Instagram accounts and according to the Mail on Sunday, it has left him feeling so disillusioned with the ruling that he is considering calling time on his professional career.

Long-term Harlequins teammate Danny Care has defended Marler, saying his actions were not malicious.

Speaking to the BBC's Rugby Union Weekly podcast, he said: “If you know Joe and you’ve played with him or spent a lot of time with him, you know he hasn’t done it in a malicious way.

“You know he hasn’t gone out there to annoy anyone or anger anyone or disrespect anyone. He’s done it in Joe’s way of being Joe. 

“Alun Wyn Jones is a team-mate of his from the Lions – I’m pretty sure they’re mates. The scuffle has broken out, Joe’s tried to make light of it and do what he’s done on Alun Wyn Jones.

“When I saw it, I just thought it was two lads messing around who were good mates but I can completely understand the massively split reaction. 

“Out of the context of sport and as a bit of banter it obviously isn’t funny. You put that in any other place of work and there’s going to be some serious repercussions from it. 

“I think anyone involved in rugby, things like that are seen as a joke. It’s seen as a bit of banter. I don’t see an awful lot wrong with it.’

There is still a year remaining on Marler's Harlequins contract but he has not returned to the club since the Six Nations.

He is currently in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, and spending time at home with his family has strengthened the idea that he may be happier away from the limelight of rugby.

Marler has stepped away from international rugby once before, having called time on his England duties in 2018 after questioning his desire to play, but never club rugby. He returned to international duty in 2019, helping England reach the World Cup final in Japan.

The Sussex-born prop has made 200 appearances for Harlequins since he made his first team debut in 2009, playing a crucial part in helping them to their first-ever Premiership title in 2012.