The meteoric rise of Marland Yarde skidded to a halt last Autumn when then England boss, Stuart Lancaster, left the powerful winger at home for the Rugby World Cup. The surprise decision came after a tour in New Zealand in 2014 where he started all three tests and blew the fans away.
The Harlequins winger had been tipped, on the back of the performances in New Zealand, to be a rising star for the home nation in their quest to win the World Cup. It wasn’t to be as Yarde had to watch on the television as the hopes of a nation unravelled.
Yarde says he has moved on from it, but knows to get back in the squad he’ll have to get back to basics with Harlequins.
With a new head coach, and a new way of doing things for England come the Six Nations, Yarde and the other England hopefuls know less is more.
Yarde admits: “I was disappointed not to be in the World Cup squad, on the back of the New Zealand tour and a the finish to the season. But that’s a part and parcel of professional sport. It’s about how I bounce back and how I prepared in the best way possible during pre-season and it’s really paid off.”
After the disappointment of the World Cup, the dynamic Yarde went away and worked on his game but that experience also gave him a valuable insight for the future. The quietly spoken but determined winger talks with an impressive head on his shoulders, considering he is only 23.
“I know it’s a cliché but I’ve just been treating it as each game as they come and it’s gone really well and it’s about now, it’s about this weekend and I got to make sure I am preparing mentally and physically for my best performance.”
His next test to impress new England boss, Eddie Jones, is in Twickenham for the big game against Gloucester. The annual event gives the Harlequins players a chance to stretch their legs at the iconic ground and it’s something Yarde looks forward to.
He adds: “It’s huge to play in these games, I didn’t really know how big until I came here, but they are one of the most recognisable teams in London.”
Yarde is equally passionate about Harlequins, as he is England, and what they can achieve this year. His coach Conor O’Shea brought him to Harlequins from London Irish and it’s his influence that was a factor in him signing on for another few years.
The enthusiasm is turning into results with the 9 try win over Calvisano proof the Quins are on the rise.
“He makes it easier for you in general in Rugby and a fun place to be, Yarde concludes. “He gives you the freedom to play so what regardless of what the result may be it’s the style of play us players enjoy playing. It may not give you the result you want but you’d much rather go down fighting the way we want to play then not.”
It’s a wise attitude that he hopes will catch the eye of Eddie Jones also.