Blues bolster backline further with addition of three-Test England centre on 'unique' one-year deal

The Blues have signed three-Test English midfielder Joe Marchant for the 2020 Super Rugby season.

Joe Marchant of England breaks away to score for England in a World Cup warm-up Test against Italy. Source: Getty

The Auckland club announced this morning they'd acquirred the services of the 23-year-old for next season as part of his new deal with English club, Harlequins.

Marchant recently signed a long-term extension with Harlequins but the deal included a sabbatical leave that enables him to experience a long-held ambition to play for a New Zealand Super Rugby team.

"Firstly I could not be more grateful to Harlequins for allowing me this opportunity to expand and grow my game. The Club has supported me every step of the way in my career to date and proven that Harlequins is still willing to support my growth as an individual," Marchant said.

"I love Harlequins, so I am delighted to have signed a three-year contract extension which was a primary concern for me. I am exceptionally thankful to Gussy and the management for helping give me the chance to test myself in a league I have always wanted to play in whilst I am in my prime.

"I am really excited to be given the chance to experience playing in Super Rugby. I am sure that I will learn a lot and I can’t wait to bring my learnings back to the Club."

Marchant's signing boosts the Blues' backline which already added All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett earlier this year.

Blues general manager of high performance Tony Hanks, who along with head coach Leon MacDonald has spent time with Harlequins, said the team was "excited" about the "unique" arrangement.

"New Zealand has developed innovative ways to retain and invigorate our best talent, and sabbatical clauses have become one of those tools to retain our best talent long-term. It’s fantastic to be part of a similar arrangement in reverse for such a promising young English player," Hanks said.

"Joe has impressed us on and off the field and we look forward to him joining us in January. We are confident that he will learn from his experience in Super Rugby and certainly our players, especially our young backs, will greatly appreciate learning from him."

The Blues' full squad, along with the four other Kiwi franchises, will be named Tuesday evening.