Steve Borthwick failing to call up England star is like Gareth Southgate snubbing Jude Bellingham - Ruck

Steve Borthwick failing to call up England star is like Gareth Southgate snubbing Jude Bellingham

Zach Mercer, the shining star of Gloucester, possesses undeniable talent that warrants a spot on the England team. It’s truly baffling that Steve Borthwick has overlooked him.

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This sentiment comes from none other than Lawrence Dallaglio, a champion of the 2003 World Cup, who is perplexed by the exclusion of the 26-year-old from the Red Rose lineup.

In a passionate commentary, Dallaglio exclaimed, “Being the standout player in France and still not making the England squad is simply incomprehensible.”

To put this into perspective, imagine an English footballer moving to Valencia, dominating LaLiga, and earning Player of the Season in their debut year. It’s a parallel situation highlighting the absurdity of Mercer’s omission from the national team.

Jude Bellingham of England celebrates after his assist for Marcus Rashford 57th minute goal during the UEFA EURO 2024 Qualifier match between England and Italy at Wembley Stadium, London on Tuesday 17th October 2023 (PHOTO: George Beck/PPAUK)

Mercer told BBC Sport: “I said, if you give me an opportunity you won’t be able to drop me’.

“I want this so badly that I know when I play, he won’t be able to take me out of the team.

“To come back and get given three weeks in a training camp and that was it, I was really disappointed with that.

Zach Mercer of Gloucester Rugby on the break during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Harlequins at Kingsholm Stadium on October 14th, 2023 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Phil Mingo/PPAUK/Gallagher)

“I’ve been open with Steve, I’ve told him my opinions on it. I thought I haven’t really been given a crack, which is what I feel like, to not even be given a game to try and prove myself is tough.”

Former England star James Haskell has been left in disbelief that the player isn’t even in contention to play for England’s ‘A’ squad against Portugal on Sunday.

He said on his The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast: “I feel sorry [for him], whoever told him to leave Montpellier when he was absolutely carving up, I’d be livid. He was ripping up trees.”

With Mercer’s discontent regarding his England situation widely known, recent rumours started circulating following a report in Midi Olympique suggesting interest from Racing 92, Toulon, and his former club Montpellier in signing him. However, Mercer has now firmly put those rumours to rest, signaling his commitment to the current chapter of his rugby career.

Speaking to The Rugby Pod from his holiday in Teneriffe, Mercer said: “In regards to the rumours, they were bound to come out at some point with me not getting picked for the World Cup or the Six Nations, I feel they were always going to come back out that I was going to try and go back to France.

“But I can put that to bed now and I am committed to being at Gloucester. I have got another three years left there so I want to have a crack there.

“We have got a chance of winning some silverware this season, obviously not the Premiership but we will try and fight and get up the table in that, but in the European Challenge Cup and Prem Cup we have a chance to win something.”

Sir Ian McGeechan Asked To Name His All-Time XV, He Said Only One ‘Unbelievable’ Player Is Guaranteed A Spot

Sir Ian McGeechan has unveiled his ultimate XV, omitting Paul O’Connell, David Campese, and Jonny Wilkinson from his lineup.

In his article for The Telegraph, the 74-year-old has chosen six New Zealanders, three Englishmen, two Welsh players, and one each from France, Scotland, and Ireland in his all-time greatest team.


Fullback: JPR Williams (Wales) – “Not a staggeringly original choice, I’ll admit. But to my mind the only one. If I’m going to be picking a dream XV then I want JPR at the back. No question, guarenteed starter.”

Left-wing: Jonah Lomu (New Zealand) – “Illness and injury ultimately slowed him down. But his performances at the 1995 World Cup, just as the game was turning professional, will never be forgotten. The game needed a superstar, and it got one in Lomu. He was brilliant for rugby.”

Right-wing: John Kirwan (New Zealand) – “He had an all round game; he could carry the ball through heavy traffic, he could offload, he was like an extra back-rower at times. Plus, he had natural effortless pace. He ended up scoring 35 tries for the All Blacks and was instrumental as they went through their unbeaten spell of games between 1987 and 1990.”


Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) – “His ability to get back on his feet after tackling to compete for the ball was extraordinary, and ensured he always had an impact on the game, whatever type of game it was. He was such a natural talent.”

Inside-centre: Philippe Sella (France) – “Sella and O’Driscoll were powerful men. They could stop a forward in his tracks. I think as a pair they would dominate any midfield and I like the thought of them together.”