- Gloucester’s number 8 has been overlooked by Borthwick for the England squad
- Mercer was expected to return to England after his move to Gloucester.
Zach Mercer, overlooked by England coach Steve Borthwick so far this season, will continue his international exile this summer after agreeing to play for the Barbarians in June.
Mercer, the number 8, returned to the Gallagher Premiership for the start of the 2023/24 campaign, signing for Gloucester after an impressive season in French rugby with Montpellier.
The 26-year-old’s move was expected to coincide with his return to England as he earned rave reviews while playing in the TOP14 at a time when he was ineligible for Test action. But Mercer, now available again for Borthwick, was not chosen for England’s final squad for last year’s World Cup or the current Six Nations.
He also missed the country’s A team selection against Portugal last weekend.
Mercer, now back fit after an ankle injury derailed part of his season, said earlier this year he was “finished” with England after their Six Nations snub.
Gloucester star Zach Mercer has agreed to play for the Barbarians this summer following his England snub.
He added: ‘I have been open with Steve. I have told you my opinions. I thought they hadn’t really given me a chance. “Not even having a game to try to prove myself is tough.”
While Mercer could, in theory, be called up by Borthwick for England’s summer tour matches with Japan and New Zealand, it appears the former Bath man is not counting on it.
He has accepted an invitation from the Barbarians to be part of their team to face Fiji at Twickenham on June 22. That match will take place on the same day England face Japan in Tokyo. ‘
“I am absolutely delighted to be involved with the Barbarians again,” Mercer said. ‘I loved the opportunity to represent them in November 2022 against the All Blacks XV.
“It was incredibly special to put on that jersey for the first time and we were also on the right side of the result.”
“Moments like that are the reason you play rugby, so it’s really exciting for me to be playing again this summer in what should be a brilliant game against Fiji.
‘They will be two teams that want to play fast and exciting rugby. It should be an unmissable afternoon of rugby.
“I’m looking forward to coming back to Twickenham again. I’ve played there a few times but the stadium still has the same aura for me and every time you get to run is a privilege.”
After a reunion with their former coach Eddie Jones, who is now back in charge of Japan for the second time, England face a delightful two-Test tour of New Zealand.
Mercer has told England manager Steve Borthwick of his frustration at being overlooked in the squad.
Borthwick’s team will face the All Blacks in Dunedin and Auckland on July 6 and 13.
It seems unlikely at this point that Mercer will be a part of those games.
Ben Earl has become England’s first-choice No 8, while Alfie Barbeary and Greg Fisilau were chosen ahead of Mercer for the A team’s clash against Portugal.
Mercer will instead focus on the remainder of the Premiership season with Gloucester before appearing for the Barbarians, who will be coached for the Fiji match by Robbie Deans.
That match will be played as part of a doubleheader at the home of English rugby.
Also on June 22, Wales will play South Africa in the Qatar Airways Cup.
Former England winger Jack Nowell appears unlikely to play Test rugby again after extending his contract with French giants La Rochelle until 2027. Only players employed by Gallagher Premiership clubs can represent Borthwick’s national team according to the RFU’s controversial foreign ruling.
Sale have signed South African lock Le Roux Roets from the Hollywoodbet Sharks on a two-year deal.
General tickets for Barbarians vs Fiji are on sale. Visit Ticketmaster, Ticketek or RFU to secure your seat.
Each ticket will cover entry to both South Africa vs Wales (KO 2pm) and Barbarians vs Fiji (KO 5.15pm) on Saturday 22 June, starting from just £55* for adults and £28* for minors 16 years old. For a 10% discount on groups of 10 or more, visit www.etiqueting.co.uk/rfu/events.