Zach Mercer signs for Gloucester

You might have heard over the last few weeks that Zach Mercer is returning to English rugby, agreeing to join Gloucester from the 2023/24 season onwards. Mercer has become a star of French rugby and it is very exciting to see him return.

There are a few major reasons why Mercer has decided to return to the premiership and his move has some big implications.

What it means for Gloucester

George Skivington is building an exciting young core in Gloucester. They were very impressive last season and finished fifth, just missing out on the top four. But there is a lot of optimism for the team because Gloucester have a huge amount of talent throughout the team.

When Mercer joins in the summer of 2023 he could form a brilliant back line alongside club captain Lewis Ludlow and standout youngster Jake Polledri. Polledri is coming off the back of serious injury but was phenomenal with Gloucester prior to injury. With Mercer joining next season, it will give young players like Jack Singleton, Freddie Clarke, Louis Rees-Zammit and Ollie Thorley another year of Premiership experience.

It means that Gloucester could have a core that could challenge for the Premiership as they already have a very deep team, that is building a real reputation.

What it means for England

While Gloucester is who he signed for, Mercer’s return to Premiership Rugby was more about getting back into the England squad. England rugby rules still prevent players from being selected if they play domestically outside of England. It is a rule that prevented Steffon Armitage from playing for his country while he was dominating for the Toulon side of the 2010s.

Mercer’s return means he is eligible to be selected for the 2023 World Cup and it means Eddie Jones has a wealth of options for the number eight jersey. When everyone is healthy, Eddie Jones can pick from Alex Dombrandt, Billy Vunipola, Sam Simmons, Zach Mercer and Jack Willis.

Having met with Eddie Jones over the past few months, another big season from Mercer will certainly land him in the England squad, particularly as all of his competitors for the position have suffered from injury problems over the past few years. It is great for Jones to have a proven number eight who possesses incredible skills.

What it means for Mercer

For Mercer himself, it gives him another shot in England. Mercer was very good in his time with Bath and took a big risk moving to Montpellier in 2021, having not played for England since two appearances in 2018. The move to France has turned him into an offloading, hard carrying number eight who would improve almost any side in the world.

Mercer will leave France with exactly what he wanted. The move back to England can launch him into being a national team star and he has already begun a relationship with Eddie Jones, with Jones keen to get him back into the team. The move is a brilliant one for Mercer and England rugby.

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