England explain why Zach Mercer has been left out of England A squad - Ruck

England explain why Zach Mercer has been left out of England A squad

The strong England A squad includes a blend of experience and youth, with five players already capped at senior level, and some younger stars just at the start of their England careers.

Those capped include: Jamie Blamire, Nick Isiewke, Tom Pearson, Harry Randall and Ollie Hassell-Collins. 21 of the 27 players have been brought through the England Rugby pathway, and achieved caps at either U18 or U20 level within the men’s system.

One notable absentee was Zach Mercer.

Asked why Mercer didn’t make a squad that he might have expected to be involved in, RFU director of rugby performance Conor O’Shea said: “There would be players that Steve might pick tomorrow that would be ahead of some of the players that are potentially there now, and it’s getting that balance.

“We said this right from the start about young players popping out of the U20s that we want to keep that connection amongst them as well as the senior players and it’s getting that balance. Listen, it’s a massive honour to play for your country at any level and this is a big Test match against Portugal, but we are trying to balance.

Zach Mercer (Gloucester Rugby) during the Premiership Rugby Content Capture Day at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on September 27th 2023. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“You could look across and say there are a number of players, ‘Should they be in?’ Every position has been discussed with what’s right for this particular game as opposed to what would be happening if you were running out into the Six Nations, plus making sure we have the strongest type of team available.

“That’s the rationale behind some of the selections. And Steve has spoken to a couple of players who might think, ‘Are we second in, are we third in the team and we’re not in this’ and he has spoken to them.”

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Highest-paid rugby players:

Breaking records and raising eyebrows, these players are leading the charge in the financial stakes of rugby union. Here’s the rundown of the top earners in the game according to The Scotsman:

Siya Kolisi – £850,000

The South African skipper boasts an impressive resume with two Rugby World Cup triumphs and a commendable third-place finish. At French powerhouse Racing 92, Kolisi has been commanding a salary of £850,000, but with the recent arrival of Owen Farrell, he might be eyeing a bump in his paycheck.

Siya Kolisi, Captain of South Africa during the Test Match between New Zealand and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on August 25th 2023. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Faf De Klerk – £900,000

De Klerk, another key figure in South Africa’s World Cup-winning squad, has made his mark in Japan. Playing for the Yokohama Canon Eagles, he’s banking a cool £900,000 annually, showcasing the global appeal of rugby’s top talents.

Faf de Klerk of Sale Sharks during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Sale Sharks at Sandy Park on 6 March 2022. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK