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'We celebrated well': From Harlequins' title win to England call

By Liam Heagney

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Joe Marchant has claimed that Harlequins’ swashbuckling Gallagher Premiership final win was warmly acknowledged when their four-strong contingent arrived into the revised 37-strong England squad for this Sunday’s summer series Test match versus the USA at Twickenham. Harlequins centre Marchant was one of four players from the new England title winners called up by Eddie Jones, the others being the uncapped trio of Marcus Smith, Alex Donbrandt and Jack Kenningham.

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Having finished fourth in the table, few gave the Londoners any chance of winning the Premiership but they produced stunning comebacks in their playoff games to defeat Bristol in the semi-final before dethroning champions Exeter in the final, a feat that naturally didn’t go unnoticed when they arrived into England camp at The Lensbury. 

“The boys have been so grateful,” said England back Marchant. “Literally since we came in everyone has said congratulations, they are so happy for us, especially because of our journey. I have been chatting to some of the boys at Northampton and we were fighting for that fourth-place spot with them for a little bit and the fact that we went on to win it.

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“Everyone is delighted with us which is really good but since we got in we have all had this focus on playing this weekend. The focus has gone on there and everyone is so focused, so ready because if we get the opportunity to play we want to show what we can do. 

“We celebrated well. It was good. It was the first time for a long time that we have been in it [the Premiership final]. A couple of boys wanted to keep going on but obviously coming in camp you couldn’t keep going but they definitely made it special and I’d say memorable but some of them maybe not.”

All 37 players in the latest England squad are available for selection this weekend, including back-rower Sam Underhill whose midweek concussion in training last week had ruled him out of the eventually cancelled A team game versus Scotland A at Leicester. With multiple England regulars away with the Lions in South Africa, Marchant, who got the first word of his latest call-up last Sunday while celebrating with Quins, is hoping to build on his run from the Test bench in his country’s last outing versus Ireland in the Guinness Six Nations last March. 

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He has five caps in total but just a single start (versus Italy in September 2019) and he is now hoping to benefit off the back of a startling league season with Harlequins where he played 19 times and scored nine tries. “We haven’t really chatted too much, to be honest,” he said when asked had there been feedback from England boss Jones regarding his form at Harlequins. 

“It’s one of those ones where when you go back to your club you have got that focus on just playing well for the club and Eddie has said in meetings and things like that when you go back to your clubs you want to show that you are an international player at club level and that is what I have tried to do. 

“I have tried to fit in with the way Quins have been playing and we have played some really good rugby. I just got in here and have got my eyes in the first week and hopefully I can get picked for that.

“It has been a goal of mine since I was a kid to play for England and I have been lucky to play five times and every game I have played I have been in and around the squad. I have never been the starter week in week out which is what I would like to be. 

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“Having had a good season at Quins that is what I am pushing towards and the whole focus leading up to this point was about playing for Quins and making sure we put ourselves on the best foot going forward. To come into camp we have got two games and hopefully I get an opportunity to show what I can do.”

A stint in the first half of 2020 at the Super Rugby Blues in New Zealand was important in the moulding of the soon to be 25-year-old Marchant into a title-winner at Harlequins. “It was really important for me to go,” he said, reflecting on a loan move that is unusual for European-based players. 

“The learning experience was amazing, just playing at a different way to the way rugby is played in the Premiership, just learning off different players, going into a brand new environment, just all those things helped me that when I came back you start seeing things a little bit different.

“And especially at the back end of the season at Quins we have been playing a lot of free-flowing rugby and started just getting the ball in space really and we have done that pretty well. Marcus has been putting the ball on a string which has been really helpful and Danny (Care) as well. Those two have been amazing. I learned a lot and really pleased I went (to New Zealand).” 

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'We celebrated well': From Harlequins' title win to England call

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