'On a different planet': Blues English recruit Joe Marchant raves about Super Rugby experience
English Super Rugby star Joe Marchant has labelled the competition as being “on a different planet” after moving to the Blues from Premiership side Harlequins for the 2020 season.
Marchant, who has been capped three times by England, is on a six-month sabbatical with the Auckland club and has starred for Leon MacDonald’s side as they won five of their seven matches before the tournament was suspended by SANZAAR.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Marchant said “it feels like the rugby is so quick” in New Zealand.
Continue reading below…
“To be able to play out here, you have to be able to live with the speed of it,” the 23-year-old midfielder said.
“Coming over, I thought that defence was a strong part of my game and that maybe I could put a marker down. You hear about how defence over here is not as good as it is in the Premiership.
“I realised pretty quickly that wasn’t the case at all. The play is so quick that, often, defences cannot get set. There will be three or four offloads in a row and you can’t even get into position.”
Marchant, who played his two most recent matches for the Blues on the right wing, spoke of how challenging it is to defend as a centre in the competition, but had enjoyed testing himself against the best midfielders in the Southern Hemisphere.
“I’ve played against [Anton] Lienert-Brown, [Jack] Goodhue and Laumape – those are three amazing, international centres in the New Zealand conference alone. I’m there trying to compete and to do as much as I can.”
After missing out on England’s World Cup squad last year, Marchant said he was hopeful that his experience with the Blues would help elevate him back into Eddie Jones’ squad as well as provide a new dynamic to Harlequins’ game.
“I really do hope that this will be a point of difference,” he said. “When I come back, I can use this experience and combine it with everything that I have done back home. And then kick on.”
Marchant isn’t the only British midfielder plying his trade in Super Rugby this year, as veteran former Welsh and British and Irish Lions international Jamie Roberts has been playing for the Stormers in South Africa.
The burly 97-cap star moved to Cape Town from Bath shortly before this season’s campaign kicked off, and told the Daily Mail last week that Super Rugby has challenged his skill set in ways that European club rugby hadn’t in the past.
“I’m a pretty competitive bloke so my goal is always to win. Super Rugby is challenging my skill set and I feel as if I’m distributing the ball more,” he said.
“I’m not playing a complete ball-carrying role with the Stormers which was my role in many sides throughout my career.
“I feel I am a guy who gives the team momentum but we’ve got one hell of a forward pack here so I don’t have to do that as much. When you do take on the line as a ball-player or a ball-carrier you are running into less traffic.
“There is more aggressive line speed back home so a lot of the time you are carrying into two people.
“In South Africa teams have to defend with width because you can get the ball out so quickly – meaning it’s often one-on-one collisions.
“In that respect, if you can use your footwork a bit more, your offloading game comes into play more. It’s testing my ability to pass at full pace in terms of 15-20 metre passes.”
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now