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Gloucester statement: Zach Mercer joins from Montpellier

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Zach Mercer has put himself in the shop window for England selection for the 2023 World Cup finals in France after Gloucester officially confirmed that the Montpellier No8 has signed for them for the 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership season. The deal will allow the ex-Bath back-rower to come in for England selection consideration from next June onwards, just in time for Jones’ squad preparations for the tournament.      

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A club statement read: “After much speculation, Gloucester Rugby is pleased to confirm the signing of Zach Mercer ahead of the 2023/24 season. The Leeds-born No8 is currently plying his trade in Montpellier, having signed for the Top 14 side in 2021 after five years with Bath Rugby. 

“With two England caps to his name – as well as 17 for England U20, including ten as captain – Mercer has made a lasting impression in France over the past twelve months. He helped secure Montpellier’s maiden Top 14 title, contributing to three first-half tries (including crossing the whitewash himself) in a man-of-the-match performance hailed by rugby fans and media alike.

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“Nominated for World Rugby junior player of the year in 2017, the 25-year-old received his first call-up to the senior England team in the same year, going on to secure his debut Test cap against Japan in the 2018 autumn internationals.”

Mercer said: “To be given the opportunity to come back and play in the Premiership with Gloucester is one that I couldn’t turn down. The loyal fans and atmosphere at Kingsholm is something I can’t wait to be part of.  

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“Alex Brown, George Skivington and the whole coaching group are building a strong team and a great environment on the field, and I believe I can add a lot of value. I can’t wait to wear the jersey in front of The Shed and be part of Gloucester’s future. I have another season here with Montpellier and I’ll be giving all my focus to the club to try to secure back-to-back titles and European cup success.”

Gloucester Rugby head coach Skivington added: “We’re building a solid group at the club with very little movement in or out, so to have secured Zach for next season is a testament to the player he is both on and off the field.  

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“His performances for Bath and Montpellier are evidence enough of his capabilities. He has a top-class work rate, outstanding ball-carrying skills and is solid in defence. He will undoubtedly bring a further dimension to add to our current back row. We have got a big season coming up, which will remain our sole focus; it’s great to have such a talent coming in to compliment the set-up next year.”

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chris 690 days ago

It will be good to have him back in the premiership

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Shaylen 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 10 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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