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'So impressed with how good an athlete he is': Why England recall Joe Marchant has thrived at Harlequins following Super Rugby loan

By Liam Heagney

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Harlequins have expressed their delight to be reaping the rewards of last year’s loan spell by Joe Marchant with the Auckland-based Blues. The 24-year-old headed to New Zealand in 2020 on a six-month Super Rugby loan to develop his game and he is now enjoying a rich seam of 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership form.

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Marchant has started ten of the last eleven Harlequins matches in the Premiership and he had a very good reason for the one game he was marked absent for – he came off the bench for England in their March 20 Guinness Six Nations finale away to Ireland.  

He then came back from Test duty – the fifth cap of his international career – and scored against Bristol the following week, although a yellow card late in that game was a contributor factor in why Quins were pipped at the line by the Bears. 

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Still, that sin-binning can’t detract from the general positive progress regarding what Marchant is now bringing to the Harlequins midfield, a potency that assistant coach Jerry Flannery has taken a liking to in his first year on the staff at the London club. 

“I wouldn’t have had a lot of experience with Joe before he went over to New Zealand. Since he has come in I have been so impressed with how good an athlete he is, how well he moves in the field in attack and defence,” said Flannery. 

“I remember speaking to Graham Rowntree before I came over where he just said this guy is a really hard trainer, a really, really good person as well. He is really good for the culture in the club and he has got massive potential. I wasn’t surprised that Eddie Jones called him up. He has been outstanding for us and we just want to keep him in that kind of form for the last run of the season… he seemed to enjoy it [being back with England]. Tough to lose to Ireland but Ireland are good.”

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While in New Zealand, Marchant had commented about the steep learning curve he was experiencing with the Blues. “Everyone just goes for it here,” he said about the style of play in New Zealand. “The play is a lot looser – even in training there are just offloads all the time. There is a big emphasis on keeping the ball alive. There was a ten-minute period in a pre-season game – one of my first here – when the ball was constantly in play. Honestly, I almost died. It was fun, but it was so much running.”

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'So impressed with how good an athlete he is': Why England recall Joe Marchant has thrived at Harlequins following Super Rugby loan

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