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Author Topic: Article on Marchant  (Read 625 times)

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Rocker

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Article on Marchant
« on: Sunday 22-Mar-2020, 10:04* »
Says he's loving the experience. Also largely talks about the myth of no defence in the S14, says it's just so fast there's no time to get defences aligned.
See Telegraph
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/rugby-union/2020/03/22/harlequins-england-centre-joe-marchant-super-rugby-has-like

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DOK

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Re: Article on Marchant
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 22-Mar-2020, 10:29* »


Marchant: Super Rugby has been like 'another planet'

Halfway through a ground-breaking six-month loan to New Zealand, Marchant is enjoying life among All Blacks
By Charlie Morgan, Rugby Reporter 22 March 2020 • 8:30am

Paul Gustard gave his blessing to Joe Marchant’s Super Rugby adventure in the hope that the experience would help the 23 year-old become England’s best outside centre. Eddie Jones thought it was an excellent idea, as well.

Almost three months into an intriguing sabbatical, Marchant is in a good position to confront the dullest cliché about Super Rugby. It is a tired and snooty perception in parts of Europe, based on expansive matches and some dizzying scorelines, that tackling is optional in the southern hemisphere competition.

Marchant had come across similar stereotypes. That was before the first matches of his ground-breaking loan move to New Zealand from Harlequins after he joined up with the Blues.

“It feels like the rugby is so quick,” says Marchant, who has now added six Super Rugby appearances for the Auckland-based franchise to his three England caps.

“To be able to play out here, you have to be able to live with the speed of it. Coming over, I thought that defence was a strong part of my game and that maybe I could put a marker down. You hear about how defence over here is not as good as it is in the Premiership.

“I realised pretty quickly that wasn’t the case at all. The play is so quick that, often, defences cannot get set. There will be three or four offloads in a row and you can’t even get into position.

“All of a sudden you are way behind the gain-line. By the time you are back on-side, the attack is off again. Just trying to pick out who you are defending, especially in that 13 channel, is crazy.”

Marchant suggests that slower contests in the Premiership, particularly those punctuated by more scrums and mauls, might be more taxing when it comes to collisions. Still, he does not mind admitting to being out of his comfort zone in New Zealand.

As the crow flies, around 11,400 miles stretch between the Twickenham Stoop and Eden Park – that Auckland cathedral where Blues play their home games and the national side is unbeaten since 1994.

Having arrived with partner Abigail in early January, flying in from London to spend New Year’s Eve in Sydney, Marchant began training immediately. Among an armada of All Blacks, the distance from home seemed even greater.

“We had Chiefs and Hurricanes in our pre-season,” Marchant adds. “To be playing against [flanker] Sam Cane and [centre] Ngani Laumape was like being on another planet. You’re chucked in at the deep end straightaway.

“In our first match of the season, [fly-half] Aaron Cruden came on at half-time for the Chiefs and steered their ship. He pulled them back from 19-5 down [to win 37-29].

“I’ve played against [Anton] Lienert-Brown, [Jack] Goodhue and Laumape – those are three amazing, international centres in the New Zealand conference alone. I’m there trying to compete and to do as much as I can.”

If it sounds like Marchant has been a passenger during the Blues’ vastly-improved year, comprising five victories from seven outings thus far, that is because of his own modesty.

Thanks to a long-standing broadcasting partnership with Sky Sports, subscribers in the United Kingdom have enjoyed Super Rugby’s Antipodean teams as exotic breakfast companions for years.

A younger Marchant was especially taken by Australian stars such as George Smith and Adam Ashley-Cooper. He asked the former for a photo after his Harlequins beat Smith’s Bristol Bears 36-26 in February 2019.

Chiefs, led by Warren Gatland, were Marchant’s opponents for his Super Rugby debut. Tana Umaga, Blues’ defence coach and an iconic, 74-cap former New Zealand captain, stalked the touchline carrying water and occasionally barking at referee Angus Gardner.

One amusing tweet likened witnessing an Englishman in Super Rugby to meeting a former schoolteacher in the pub. The sight was not jarring for long.

    Watching Joe Marchant for the Blues. Seeing an Englishman playing Super Rugby feels like seeing your school teacher down the pub.
    — mark smith (@markismith50) January 31, 2020

Despite encountering “another level of speed” and copping plenty of good-natured ribbing for his accent – “they all sound Cockney… maybe they watch too many films” laughs Winchester-born Marchant – he has slotted in nicely.

Head coach Leon MacDonald, yet another ex-All Black, recently described his introduction as “brilliant”. Ironically, given Jonathan Joseph’s switch during the Six Nations, Marchant shifted to the wing to accommodate Rieko Ioane coming into midfield and promptly scored two tries at Newlands in Cape Town as Stormers were ousted 33-14.

Blues then beat Hurricanes and Lions, putting themselves second in the New Zealand conference – as many wins as they had managed in the whole of 2019, with star signing Beauden Barrett yet to feature – when coronavirus stalled the campaign.

An Under-20 world champion with England and a prolific Premiership try-scorer, Marchant would have toured Argentina under Jones in 2017 but for injury. His ability is undoubted. His ambition and proactivity also deserve immense credit.

    Have you heard about @bluesrugbyteam's new centre? Joe Marchant, remember the name.

    🎥: @skysportnz#WARvBLU #RugbyRecoded pic.twitter.com/q2baLQ3gM2
    — Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) February 8, 2020

“Over the years, I’d spoken to my agent about the opportunity of going abroad and the timing of it,” he explains. “It makes sense to go at the end of your spell in the academy.

“I was playing first-team rugby at that stage, so I’d never had that opportunity. Obviously, I was so happy to be playing in the Premiership and I loved it, but it meant that a move abroad was on the back-burner.

“Last summer, I’d told my agent that I was really, really serious about going to Super Rugby. My contract with Harlequins was coming up and, luckily, they wanted to re-sign me early.”

Marchant’s 2018-19 season, in which he scored 11 Premiership tries for Harlequins, finished with a sparkling display for England against the Barbarians. Jones subsequently called him into his World Cup preparations and capped him from the bench against Wales at Twickenham.

In a “rollercoaster”, so-near-yet-so-far summer, Marchant learned the following day that he was not in England’s squad for Japan. Even so, he stayed on as a member of the extended training group. Ben Moon, Charlie Ewels and Matt Kvesic also came and went.

Two more Tests against Ireland and Italy followed, Marchant slicing through the Azzurri from a scrum at St James’ Park to open his account for England. Meanwhile, contract negotiations were ongoing.

New Zealand’s Super Rugby sides are entitled to a limited number of foreign imports. Tony Hanks, now Blues’ high performance manager after stints at Wasps and Sale Sharks, knew of Marchant’s pedigree. Harlequins’ relationship with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) helped.

The man himself had a brief conversation with Jones, asking him where a secondment would leave him as far as England selection: “He thought it’d be a really good opportunity to go and learn.”

Because the World Cup had pushed back the Premiership schedule, aligning it with that of Super Rugby, Gustard’s dilemma was whether he could essentially surrender one of his best players for the majority of the season. He took the admirable decision to do so, tying down Marchant with a two-year extension in the process.

“I was so grateful that they let me go,” says Marchant, who left after playing in three league games for Harlequins. “It’s quite a big thing if one of your players says they want to go to the other side of the world, but [Gustard] understood everything.

“I spoke to him about wanting to become a better player, playing with different players and under different coaches and in different stadiums. He was great, and keen for it to happen.”

Marchant is delighted with the outcome and believes future player exchanges between England and New Zealand would be hugely beneficial. He has kept in contact with Harlequins, reviewing most of their games, while embracing a new lifestyle. He has bought a surfboard and visited Hobbiton, the Lord of the Rings filmset, with Abigail. Coronavirus chaos brought forward a trip to Queenstown. 

As a contingency for Super Rugby’s likely cancellation, NZR plan to implement a revamped round-robin of Kiwi derbies behind closed doors. What a shop window that would be for Marchant and his England prospects. He already has one eye on adding value when he returns.

“I really do hope that this will be a point of difference,” Marchant finishes. “When I come back, I can use this experience and combine it with everything that I have done back home. And then kick on.”

Fearless Fred

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Re: Article on Marchant
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 22-Mar-2020, 13:12* »
It really sounds like he's making the most of his opportunity. I'm looking forward to seeing what he'll bring back with him, especially in terms of leadership in the backs.
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Comet

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Re: Article on Marchant
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 22-Mar-2020, 21:14* »
Thank you for sharing. It will be exciting to see what he brings to our back division next season. He was already a brilliant player but this experience will really help him to develop even further.

I miss him a lot!!!!

Quinten Poulsen

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Re: Article on Marchant
« Reply #4 on: Sunday 22-Mar-2020, 21:46* »
I'm not sure how much he'll bring back if they keep him on the wing. And of course the whole virus thing may have a big say in things.

Monte

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Re: Article on Marchant
« Reply #5 on: Monday 23-Mar-2020, 11:32* »
NZ has gone into purdah this morning so that will be the end of his experience I am afraid.

 

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