Rugby-Lions need mental health support on South Africa tour: Marler

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - England Training - The Lensbury Hotel, Teddington, Britain - October 22, 2020 England's Joe Marler during training Pool via REUTERS/Glyn Kirk

(Reuters) - England prop Joe Marler said the British and Irish Lions squad should have access to mental health support in South Africa to help players cope with the demands of the tour and spending an extended period away from friends and family.

Marler, who was not called up, said the July 3 to Aug. 7 tour would be more challenging than previous campaigns as players would be confined to bubbles due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It'll be a tough ask for them," Marler told the BBC. "If I was part of it, I would definitely recommend they get someone with that particular set of (psychiatry) skills to be there.

"Lions tours are tough, particularly for players that have got families and they spend long periods away from them."

Warren Gatland's squad will play eight matches in South Africa, including three tests against the world champions Springboks.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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