"Not big enough" - Steve Borthwick praises his replacement for Zach Mercer - Ruck

“Not big enough” – Steve Borthwick praises his replacement for Zach Mercer

Zach Mercer’s aspirations to secure a spot in England’s World Cup squad are now in serious jeopardy, as Steve Borthwick has made the decision to bring together the Willis brothers instead.

Despite Mercer’s impressive performances abroad, Borthwick overlooked the Gloucester-bound player when announcing the 41 participants for the upcoming full-strength training camp.

In a surprising twist, Borthwick turned his attention to Tom Willis, who has been making waves at Bordeaux since his move there during the middle of the season following the collapse of Wasps.

Tom, a formidable talent at 24 years old, will soon join Saracens for the 2023-24 campaign and will now have the opportunity to reunite with his brother Jack, who recently achieved title glory with Toulouse after an unexpected move across the English Channel.

Expressing his admiration for Tom Willis, Borthwick commented, “I consider him an exceptional player whom we closely monitored during his time in France. His powerful carrying ability is particularly noteworthy and adds a new dimension to his game.”

Borthwick’s decision to favor Tom Willis over Mercer has thrown Mercer’s homecoming mission into disarray, leaving his dreams of representing England at the World Cup hanging by a thread.

Speculating on why Mercer was dropped, one fan wrote: “Big Billy, Dombrandt and Willis…Borthwick only wants powerhouse number 8. Mercer isn’t big enough.”

Another commented: “The All Blacks should just call Zach Mercer up.”

Mercer qualifies for New Zealand through his father, who is former rugby league footballer and coach Gary Mercer, who played for New Zealand and the New Zealand Māori rugby league team.


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Back Three

Ollie Hassell-Collins of England during the England Rugby Captains Run ahead of the Six Nations Match between England and Italy at Twickenham, London on 11 Feb 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

15. Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints)

14. Adam Radwan (Newcastle Falcons)

11. Ollie Hassell-Collins (Leicester Tigers)


Fraser Dingwall of Northampton Saints on the break during the European Champions Cup, Quarter-final match between Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints at Sandy Park on 20 Sept 2020. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK.

13. Will Joseph (Harlequins)

12. Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)