Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
NZ NZ

Zach Mercer told to stop sulking by former England teammate

By Ian Cameron
Zach Mercer, (L) talks to England defence coach Kevin Sinfield during the England training session held at Pennyhill Park on June 12, 2023 in Bagshot, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former England hooker Dylan Hartley has suggested that Zach Mercer shouldn’t be sulking over his Six Nations non-selection by Steve Borthwick.

ADVERTISEMENT

Zach Mercer has not taken well to his being overlooked by England for the tournament, suggesting last month that Borthwick hasn’t given him a fair crack of the whip. The disgruntled Gloucester player – who returned to the Gallagher Premiership with an eye on more England caps – has now been linked with a move back to the Top 14.

Now Mercer’s former England teammate Hartley has contrasted the No.8’s attitude with New Zealand’s talent-rich environment, where not all can play yet sulking is rare.

Video Spacer

Jesse Kriel on the Springboks’ rush defence | RPTV

Bulls’ forwards coach Andries Bekker chats to Jan de Koning about the Bulls season so far and aspects of their game they want to work on.

Watch now

Video Spacer

Jesse Kriel on the Springboks’ rush defence | RPTV

Bulls’ forwards coach Andries Bekker chats to Jan de Koning about the Bulls season so far and aspects of their game they want to work on.

Watch now

“If you look at New Zealand in comparison, there’s five super teams and not all five number eights can play for the All Blacks. There are always players that are going to miss out, but you don’t hear them sulking,” said Hartley.

Hartley pointed out the importance of fitting into a coach’s strategy, drawing from his own career shaped by physical attributes and set-piece skills, to underline the tough realities of professional rugby union.

“Ultimately, Steve Borthwick has a way that he wants to play the game, Eddie Jones had a way that he wanted to play the game and they both pick players to fit that.

“I would not have had a career if every coach I played for didn’t prioritise set piece. I was typically five to eight kilos heavier than most hookers and my set piece was very steady.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I was always in the 90 per cent for my line out and the scrum got a little bit easier towards the end of my career. There are always going to better players. Mikey Haywood at Northampton was far more dynamic as was Jamie George and Tom Youngs. Lee Mears was more skilful than me.

“I was every coach’s preferred player because I was heavier and my set piece. It’s just one of these things that the players who are not in the squad or not playing have to deal with. Eddie wanted size and weight and Billy Vunipola had that in bags, like 10 kilo bags more than everyone else.”

Hartley suggests that Mercer simply doesn’t fit Borthwick’s current vision for England.

“It’s one of these things. Zach Mercer plays a great game and I love him as a player and he’s a great bloke, but how does Steve Borthwick want the balance of his back row to look? I’m not sure that Zach Mercer fits into that. Ultimately, Borthwick will have his favourite player for number eight and he can’t pick them all.”

Hartley’s full conversation with Gambling Zone can be found here. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Related

ADVERTISEMENT

Join free

Fresh Starts | Episode 1 | Will Skelton

ABBIE WARD: A BUMP IN THE ROAD

Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 8

James Cook | The Big Jim Show | Full Episode

New Zealand victorious in TENSE final | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Men's Highlights

New Zealand crowned BACK-TO-BACK champions | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Women's Highlights

Japan Rugby League One | Steelers v Sungoliath | Full Match Replay

Rugby Europe Women's Championship | Netherlands v Spain

Trending on RugbyPass

Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free
ADVERTISEMENT

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

TRENDING
TRENDING Why Ireland has two unofficial world titles and South Africa has none Why Ireland has two unofficial world titles
Search