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'You effing don't look like you want to play for England. You're fat, you're lazy'

By Ian Cameron
Eddie Jones /PA

England head coach Eddie Jones isn’t one to mince his words, something Montpellier No.8 Zach Mercer found out firsthand before his England career even started.


Jones is notorious for giving frank – often expletive-laden – feedback to England players under his charge.

Mercer, who is hoping to eventually add to the two caps he earned four years ago under Jones, says he’s a fan of how the 62-year-old conducts himself.

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Zach Mercer – Life in Montpellier & England Ambitions | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 30

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Zach Mercer – Life in Montpellier & England Ambitions | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 30

Mercer believes he won the Australian’s respect by leaving Bath and the Gallagher Premiership behind last year in a bid to develop as a player, but as he told The Offload podcast, his first conversation with the England boss was more than a little direct.

“I remember the first phone call I had with him. He actually rang me and goes ‘Mate, Eddie here’ and I’m like ‘Oh, hi.”

“I wasn’t playing for Bath that long.

“And he was like: ‘Mate. Do you want to play for England?’ and I’m like ‘yeah’.

“And Eddie goes: ‘Well you effing don’t like you want to play for England. You’re fat, you’re lazy.’

“I was like oh my god and go ‘Yeah’ and the phone call’s done. That’s it. It’s over.”


Mercer admits that despite the abrupt nature of the call, he respects Jones’ no-nonsense approach.

“I kind of like it. I respect the guy. I like the way he communicates with different people.”

Jones visited Montpellier recently to see the 24-year-old play and he can’t have been disappointed by the in form No.8’s newfound joie de vivre. Mercer has enjoyed a rich vein of form in the Top 14 and shone against Harlequins in their recent first leg Round of 16 game, showing the redoubtable talent that 6’4, 110kg loose forward possesses.

“I think the way I communicate with him now is completely different compared to the way I used to.

“I think he respects me a lot more that I took this opportunity and have gone to France because I wanted to develop my game.


“I think he looks at me slightly differently than he did before.

“I really enjoy speaking to Eddie when I get the opportunity. He tells me how it is and he doesn’t beat around the bush.

“I would love to play under him again at some point.”



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Spew_81 785 days ago

Mental toughness wins the big games. If a player can't take harsh feedback. It is likely they are not mentally tough.

DP 786 days ago

Rugby values? Have some self respect Zach, if anyone spoke to me like that I’d ring them back and tell them to go and ** themselves. Can’t imagine Farrell or Rassie or Nienaber or Foster speaking to a player like that. What a culture the England setup must be fostering…

Neale 786 days ago

If true, that's garbage from Jones, and thoroughly disrespectful. You just don't treat people like that.

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