Zack Mercer, the revelation of the year in Montpellier

Zach Mercer, the indispensable third line of the MHR. CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

The English third-line center-back, who arrived last summer, immediately became an essential gear of the MHR, against Castres in the Top 14 final.

Express adaptation. Last July, when Montpellier announced the hiring of Zach Mercer, replacing Louis Picamoles who had left for the UBB, few people had heard of this slender third line (1.90 m by 111 kg), landed from Bath. But the man who wore the Rose XV jersey twice (in 2018) soon made a name for himself in the Hérault and the Top 14. “It simply came to our notice then. He is a positive player, advancing all the time. It makes us gain yards, breaks tackles. He’s very smart, he’s a great player, we’ve seen him this year. He is one of the best number 8, in the Top 14 but also in the world.greets MHR international back Anthony Bouthier.

Both powerful and mobile, runner and fighter, Zach Mercer -in a profile reminiscent of Imanol Harinordoquy or former Springbok Pierre Spies- was immediately integrated into the Montpellier collective. “Zack is a very versatile player. He is able to carry the ball, make passes, can also scratch balls, details Olivier Azam, the coach of the Hérault strikers. We try to use it as best we can.“In his first season, the Englishman has lined up 30 times (23 starters) and has played 1,900 minutes in all competitions. During five tests they entered.

A success that is anything but a surprise for Philippe Saint-André, the manager of the MHR, at the origin of his arrival in France. “So thank you to Mohed Altrad (its president) because no one knew him. I told him: “Don’t worry! It won’t disappoint you.” I don’t think the players, the clubs and the Top 14 are disappointed to have players like that. “ points out.

And the technician behind the return to the forefront of the MHR to say: “I worked for 10 years in England (in Gloucester and Sale), I commented on the English championship for six years (at SFR Sport). Zack, seven years ago I am, his father was international at 7, he comes from the north of England, near where I trained in Sale. I knew his qualities, I had a chance at some point, things were going wrong at Bath, the England coach didn’t trust him. So I took the opportunity.»

Scottish international youth

If the Leeds-born number 8 today doesn’t fit into Eddie Jones ’plans, he could have worn the colors of … Scotland where he had lived at 8 years old. He then went on to Glasgow Academy and had even been a Scottish international with the under-16s. Only at the age of 18 did he join Bath, one of the best training clubs in England.

Anglo-Saxons have different mindsets than ours, the French, that we are grumpy, grumpy and like to moan and be very negative.

Olivier Azam

Everyone at the MHR salutes her impeccable mood and good communicative humor. “We see it every weekend, there isn’t a single game where we can say it was bad, insists Anthony Bouthier. Each match brings us its serenity and its technique. He is a player we want to have on our team.And Olivier Azam to support: “It’s positive, like all Anglo-Saxons, they always have bananas. They need to be in something where they feel good, where they are comfortable. They have different mindsets than ours, the French, that we are grumpy, grumpy and we like to moan and be very negative.»

Back in England for the World Cup?

And the former whore passed as a player for Gloucester (2000-2003 then 2001-2011) and he was scrum coach of the English under-20s to let go with a smile. : That’s why I also spent 10 years in England.Can Mercer, who is committed to the MHR until 2023, spend so much time in France? I’m not sure, his best performances haven’t gone unnoticed across the Canal, Gloucester is said to be watching him. And a return to England would also allow him to apply for a place in the XV de la Rose for the 2023 World Cup. Eddie Jones should not go blind to the versatile third row at just 24 years old. Awesome.

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