Powerhouse Bath No.8 Zach Mercer believes a few extra kilos will provide the impetus he needs to return to the England set-up.
He told The Rugby Paper: “It’s hard to know quite where I am body-wise until we’ve got a few games under our belts, but I’ve put on a few kilos, which is what they wanted, and I’m much stronger in the gym so I put my time to good use during the months in lockdown.
“I was about 109kgs (17st 2lbs) before we stopped and I’m about 112kgs (17st 8lbs) now and I feel in good shape. I’m renowned as an attacking player but earlier in the season I showed I’ve got more variety to my game and those extra kilos are really going to help.
“I can be a bit more effective in the tackle while still being agile, fast and strong around the field and I know where I need to be to move my career on.
“My fitness is better but if I do struggle with being a bit heavier, I’ll just make a decision with the coaches to clip things a bit.
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He added: “I’ve had no contact (from Jones), but does that worry me? No. I just want to put my head down, crack on and ensure my form for Bath is worthy of consideration.
“If you look at Tom Curry, he’s not a No.8 by trade and even he will admit that, so the way I see it is there are opportunities with England but only if you work really hard.
“Tom’s a world-class player and he showed he could play anywhere across the back row. He’s been one of the standouts for England over the last couple of years, but I can’t focus on Tom Curry or anyone else, I feel in good condition and it’s all down to me now.”
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LIST | 5 England players who could swap nations for 2023 World Cup
Sir Bill Beaumont has hit back in the World Rugby election race and revealed he wants to create a law change that would allow Manu Tuilagi and other England stars to end their Test career playing for other nations.
The former England captain raised the possibility in his re-election manifesto ahead of next month’s contest with former Argentina scrum-half Agustin Pichot.
In it he promises a review of Regulation 8 which covers eligibility to play for national teams “to see how we can support the longevity of players’ international careers”.
Based on this, we’ve looked at some other current England stars who could head to the 2023 Rugby World Cup to represent other nations.
We’ve not included Billy Vunipola, as we think he is likely to be still in the reckoning for England in three years time.
1. Manu Tuilagi (Samoa)
- Current number of caps: 41
- Age at the start of RWC 2023: 32
- Did you know: He was named Manusamoa, after the name of the Samoan national team
The England centre, who was born in Fogapoa and came to the UK at the age of 13, is one of a clutch of Pacific Island players whose eligibility status could change if the restrictions are relaxed. He is the younger brother of Freddie, Henry, Alesana, Anitelea and Sanele Vavae Tuilagi, all of whom are Samoan internationals and also played for Leicester. It would be fantastic for the powerhouse to complete the set.