He might be injured and therefore omitted from Stuart Lancaster’s squad for England’s Six Nations game against France on Saturday, but Marland Yarde today became one of the major talking points of English rugby.
It was confirmed today that Harlequins had signed the promising England winger from local rivals London Irish on a two-year contract. The move will come as a huge blow to the struggling Irish, who are at risk of losing Australian playmaker James O’Connor at the end of the season and have, over the past year, lost major talent in the form of Alex Corbisiero and Jonathan Joseph.
Yarde’s switch comes as a huge boost for Harlequins who have been lacking firepower on the wings over the past few seasons. Ex-England and British and Irish Lions winger Ugo Monye and Paul Sackey provide a wealth of experience, but both lack the clinical finishing and game-changing ability of Yarde.
It is also a huge boost for England. Marland Yarde may be unable for selection now, but with Harlequins’ Mike Brown the full-back of choice for Stuart Lancaster, the importance of their playing together on a regular basis at club level cannot be understated. Yarde made a promising start to his England career in 2013 with some eye-catching performances against Argentina.
Harlequins boss Connor O’Shea was understandably enthusiastic about Yarde’s arrival, and said:
“Having played all his rugby at London Irish and in speaking to Marland and his mother these past few weeks, I know how much Marland appreciates everything that has been done for him by London Irish. However, once he decided that he wanted to make a change I think we both knew the fit was perfect. He is young, ambitious, has world class potential and his ‘X-Factor’ is with ball in hand. We are absolutely determined that we will help him realise his ambitions and look forward to him joining the squad for pre-season training in the summer.”
Yarde will see out the remainder of the season with London Irish.