Zach Mercer receives Twickenham call-up for ‘exciting’ Fiji showdown

Adam Kyriacou
Zach Mercer on a run for Barbarians.

Zach Mercer on a run for Barbarians.

England outcast Zach Mercer is set to run out at Twickenham on Saturday, June 22 in Barbarians colours after being named in their Killik Cup squad to face Fiji.

The 26-year-old joins England’s most-capped men’s player Ben Youngs on the list of names already confirmed to play for the famous invitational side later this year.

Former Wallabies boss Robbie Deans will lead the squad against the Flying Fijians and those purchasing a ticket will also get to see South Africa v Wales on the same day.

In impressive form for Gloucester

Mercer began his career with Bath and was nominated for World Rugby Junior Player of the Year in 2017 after captaining England to an U20 Six Nations Grand Slam and the World Rugby U20 Championship final.

He enjoyed two years filled with success in France following a move to Montpellier, where he won the Top 14 title and was named the league’s Player of the Year in 2022.

The explosive number eight returned to England and the Premiership with Gloucester in the summer of 2023, and despite a two-month spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury, Mercer’s performances for the Cherry and Whites have continued to catch the eye – most recently delivering a man-of-the-match display against Exeter Chiefs to send Gloucester into the Premiership Rugby Cup final.

However, he has not managed to force his way into the England side during the Six Nations and is subsequently relishing the prospect of another appearance in a Barbarians shirt this year.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be involved with the Barbarians again this summer,” he said. “I loved the opportunity to represent the Baa-Baas in November 2022 against the All Blacks XV; it was incredibly special to pull on that jersey for the first time and we were on the right end of the result as well.

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“Moments and memories like that are the reason you play rugby, so it’s really exciting for me to play again this summer in what should be a brilliant match against Fiji.

“I think it will be two very similar outfits going head-to-head, two teams that want to play fast, exciting rugby.

“The Fijians were one of the best teams to watch at the recent Rugby World Cup, certainly the most-improved team there, and they’re going to want to come to Twickenham and put on a show once again.

“It’s going to be a great battle between the Baa-Baas and Fiji on the day, so I’d definitely encourage rugby fans to get down there on June 22 to watch the games. With South Africa vs Wales on ahead of us as well, it should be an unmissable afternoon of rugby.”

This will be Mercer’s second time representing the Baa-Baas following the number eight’s Player-of-the-Match showing in the 35-31 Killik Cup victory over the All Blacks XV in November 2022, while he has also played against the club on two occasions – for England in May 2018, and for Gloucester in October 2023.

Mercer added: “Everyone remembers what happens in the Barbarians’ matches, but the week beforehand is just as special as well. It’s all about getting to know each other as a group of players, creating bonds with different individuals who you haven’t played with before.

Excited to play for Barbarians

“I’m really looking forward to getting back to Twickenham again – I’ve played there a few times now, but the stadium still has the same aura for me and every time you get to run out there is a privilege.

“Last time with the Baa-Baas was at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, this time obviously it’s Twickenham, and being involved at venues of that calibre just goes to show what big occasions these matches are.

“Baa-Baas matches are great learning opportunities as well. You’re training with some of the best players in the world, and all the coaches are world class. I had the pleasure of working with Scott Robertson and Ronan O’Gara last time – two of the very best in the business – and to work with Robbie Deans on this one is amazing, so I am really excited for that opportunity.”

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