On-loan England midfielder Joe Marchant is relishing his impending return to New Zealand-style rugby after the easing of the coronavirus restrictions in the land of the All Blacks. An all-New Zealand Super Rugby series is set to commence on June 13 featuring the five local franchises facing off against each other in a series of derby matches through to August 16.

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Having won three Test caps in 2019 under Eddie Jones, the 23-year-old was allowed to further his rugby education with a temporary switch from Harlequins to the Auckland-based Blues.

That move looked to have ended in disappointment, the Super Rugby season suspended in mid-March after just seven rounds of the fixtures in the 2020 campaign. But Marchant – who scored three tries in six outings – is now set to return to play much sooner than would be the case if he was in London on Gallagher Premiership duty with Paul Gustard’s side. 

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The Blues are back in action on June 14 in the Aotearoa 2020 with a home match in Auckland versus the Hurricanes and Marchant can’t wait to continue his appreciation of New Zealand club rugby versus the style he had encountered in the English top-flight. 

Speaking on the latest edition of the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast, Marchant explained: “Everyone just goes for it here. 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.

“I reckon the defence in England is better, a lot more solid, but I think that is about the size of the blokes and the speed of the game.

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“I was hoping I was going to be able to come here and bring defence as a big part of my game, but I just can’t get set quick – I’m trying to get back onside the ball is already gone. My tackle stats have gone down a lot and I have found it a lot more difficult.”

If the schedule goes to plan, Marchant can potentially manage to squeeze in three matches for the Blues in June before his July 1 return to Harlequins. 

 

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