Skipper Farrell will miss the Six Nations after opting to take a Test match break to protect his and his family’s mental health. The 32-year-old fly-half will continue to play for and captain Saracens, but will be able to have a complete break from rugby in February or March.
Ireland boss Andy Farrell hit out at the “disgusting circus” surrounding his son after the 112-cap star’s red card in August’s World Cup warm-up match against Wales.
England talisman Farrell himself then later lambasted social media abuse directed at Tom Curry during the World Cup, appearing nonplussed by the online vitriol.
Saracens boss Mark McCall criticised sections of the “mainstream media” too, in running the rule over Farrell’s decision to take an international break.
Harlequins prop Marler helped England to a third-place finish at the World Cup in France, and has been a Test team-mate of Farrell’s for more than a decade. Marler admitted Farrell’s decision has been a big blow both personally and in terms of the impact it will have on the England team.
“It’s a big call for Faz, he’s stepped away to protect his and his family’s mental well-being,” Marler told talkSPORT.
“I suspect he’s probably just shattered; he’s been going since he was 20. And he’s got his own reasons for it, and we can only speculate on some of the stuff he’s put out about it.
“The fact he’s the quarter-back, the general of the team naturally as well as the captain, yeah, there’s a lot of pressure on him.
“And I guess it’s not helped when he puts so much into it and he gets very little back, in terms of appreciation, or public appreciation. I think he’s underappreciated.
“For Faz, I’m gutted for him, I’m gutted for the England team as well, because he’s a world-class player.”
Farrell was booed by spectators at several England matches across the World Cup in France, in reactions that the Red Rose players and management still cannot fathom. The England stalwart became his country's top points-scorer of all time in France, and remains one of the globe’s brightest talents.
Marler believes Farrell perhaps suffers unjustly in some circles purely because he does not court attention or acclaim. The 33-year-old Quins star equated some views of Farrell to early receptions of British tennis great Andy Murray.
“People recognise he’s a fantastic rugby player, but just because he doesn’t sit in press conferences and he doesn’t warm to the media, or that sort of public appearance, people then think he’s quite cold,” said Marler.
“I think of it a bit like Andy Murray, years back, where he used to get a lot of flak.
“He wouldn’t warm to the media, then he got a little bit older, little bit wiser, and he started giving away a little bit more, his dry sense of humour, he was a little bit more confident in himself. And then people sort of came round to that.
“He’s taken a lot of flak. There’s one thing knocking someone’s performance or playing ability. There’s another thing to start questioning people’s character. And then there’s the abuse he got during the World Cup.
“I actually don’t think it’s a rugby problem, it’s a societal problem, in terms of social media and the ability for anyone to say anything, without any responsibility for what they do say.
“I’m not sitting here as a victim or anything. We put ourselves out in the public eye and we accept you have to take the rough with the smooth.
“But at the same time is there any danger of just curbing it a little bit, or at least having something in place to stop people putting stuff out straight away, without thinking, to stop and think.”