Zach Mercer: I'm done with England – Steve Borthwick does not value me

Zach Mercer of Gloucester celebrates winning a penalty during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Northampton Saints at Kingsholm Stadium on December 23, 2023 in Gloucester, England
Zach Mercer has chosen to focus on Gloucester after being overlooked in England selection - Getty Images/David Rogers

Zach Mercer, the Gloucester back-rower, says he is ‘done’ with England after his latest snub and hit out at Steve Borthwick for not valuing him enough.

Mercer was overlooked by Steve Borthwick for the 36-man Six Nations squad that was unveiled on Wednesday. Having returned from a successful stint in Montpellier to the West Country to fight for a Test place after winning his only two caps under Eddie Jones in 2018, the 26-year-old is now concentrating purely on club matters.

“I’m older, more mature, I put the international selection aside now,” he told BBC Sport ahead of a Challenge Cup fixture against Castres on Friday evening. “I’m done for the time being with that and I’m just going to focus on Gloucester.”

Borthwick called Mercer on Tuesday to inform him he did not figure in England’s plans for the coming months, with a game in Rome against Italy due to begin their tournament on February 3.

“I said ‘if you give me an opportunity you won’t be able to drop me’,” Mercer explained of his response to Borthwick. “I want this so badly that I know when I play, he won’t be able to take me out of the team.”

England's Zach Mercer during a training session at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot
Mercer has won just two caps for England - PA Wire/Adam Davy

Despite attending the early stages of England’s long summer of World Cup preparations, Mercer was starved of any game-time. When the tournament began, Ben Earl ended up starring at the base of the scrum and would appear to be in pole position to be No 8 for the Six Nations, though there has also been a recall for Alex Dombrandt. Chandler Cunningham-South is one of Borthwick’s uncapped inclusions. For now, Mercer has been left in the cold.

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

“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.

“I just don’t feel like he values what I can offer as a player and that’s me being honest, I don’t think he values what I can bring. Obviously I don’t fit into the system that he wants to run and, whether I agree with that or not, it is what it is.

“My focus now is on Gloucester and England can take a step aside for the moment.”

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