England centre Joe Marchant, who’s currently enjoying a club swap with the Blues in Auckland, has been revealing just how athletic his new teammates are. Marchant has spent 2020 in New Zealand with the Blues thanks to an agreement between the two organisations and is due to return on July 1, allowing him to take part in the opening rounds of the all-New Zealand tournament which began this weekend.

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Speaking with Harlequins coach Nick Evans and centre Francis Saili on a video call, Marchant was gushing in his praise of his colleagues.

‘To be fair a load of the boys have crazy skills. Some of the back rows especially, like Hoskins Sotutu, the No.8 that’s come through, he’s been unreal,” said Marchant.

“Mark Telea just beats people, for anything, he can sprint, stop, fend, anyone. In games there’s nothing they [defenders] can do about it. It’s just crazy.

“I can’t remember what game it was but, I think it was the Waratahs, where he scored two. He got the ball and the winger is just coming across, and he just did the most casual fend. I’m like ‘mate, how are you doing this?’.

Derby games between the New Zealand Super Rugby sides have been especially hyped-up.

“The difference with the New Zealand games, not only were they all derby games, but when you’re playing against a New Zealand team, they were like this is a huge, huge game. All three of them were your derby games. There was a bit of everything in those games.”

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Marchant says that despite their size, some of the Blues forwards are ‘absolutely rapid’, including one 6’6, 120kg All Black second row, Patrick Tuipulotu, who has shocked the Englishman with the GPS times he’s clocking in training.

“When you come up against the South Africans you just know they are going to be more direct and physical. It was weird because I was kind of thinking that when you go into, you want to dominate at set-piece, but actually a lot of the forwards we got were still enormous but you forget about that, as the game is quite quick.

“Even the second rows are absolutely rapid. Like Patrick Tuipulotu who is getting 9.4 metres a second in training.

“That’s ridiculous. If I’d got that in a session, I’d be like ‘yeah, sweet, I’d done my metres. Just a second row casually doing that.”

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Marchant was also asked about ‘Big Dog’ Beauden Barrett, who was back training with the Blues.

“I’ve only played two sessions with him. He came in the week before lockdown. We had come back from three away games on the bounce.

“We walked past him in a little kicking session. So we went over and say hello.”

Marchant by his own admission is loving the experience of living in New Zealand and playing Super Rugby.

“It’s been amazing, I’ve absolutely loved it. Just living on the other side of the world. Just travelling around and seeing the beaches, getting down to Queenstown, it’s just made such a difference. The rugby as well, it’s just been such a different experience. You know, going for two weeks to play in South Africa, playing New Zealand rugby. It’s just been amazing.”

Marchant has previously labelled the competition as being “on a different planet”. He’s starred for Leon MacDonald’s side as they won five of their seven Super Rugby matches before the tournament was suspended by SANZAAR, but he will now have the opportunity to play alongside new signing Dan Carter in the Blues’ star-studded backline.

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