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One to Watch: England’s Marcus Smith

One to Watch: England’s Marcus Smith

Marcus Smith

If you weren’t already watching Marcus Smith, the question is, where have you been?

“Marcus is a one-of-a-kind special talent, the sort of player you build a club around,” explained Harlequins half-back partner Danny Care.

“I tell you, people will come and play for this club because of him. If club and country look after him well, he could be a superstar.

“He is the real deal and only going to get better and better. That’s a really good sign for the future for England.”

High praise indeed.

And after scoring a whopping 270 points and helping Harlequins light up the Premiership last season, it’s easy to see why Care loves fly-half Smith so much.

Autumn Nations Series fixtures

The 2020/21 Premiership campaign saw Harlequins produce a series of outrageous attacking displays, as they marched their way to title glory.

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Overcoming a record 28-0 deficit in the semi-finals against Bristol Bears, Harlequins, marshalled by Smith, toppled then defending champions Exeter Chiefs 40-38 to secure their second ever league title, in what was the highest-scoring Premiership final of all time.

Marcus Smith celebrates with the Gallagher Premiership Trophy

The win over Exeter saw things come full circle for Smith, who, coincidentally was in the Twickenham stands supporting Harlequins back in 2012 when they secured their first league title against Leicester Tigers.

Following his Premiership heroics, the 22-year-old made his full England debut against the United States, helping them to secure a 43-29 win in which he contributed 13 points.

A week later, he was on hand again to help deliver a comfortable beating of another transatlantic opponent, this time in the form of Canada, who England dispatched 70-14.

So impressive was Smith last season, he earned a shock call-up to Warren Gatland’s British & Irish Lions squad as injury cover for Finn Russell – which he found out about in the Twickenham tunnel after being substituted against Canada.

And just over two weeks after making his England debut, Smith made his Lions bow, playing the full 80 minutes against the Stormers in which he converted seven tries.

Introducing England: Eddie Jones’ men enter new chapter

While 2021 was the year that Smith finally burst onto the stage at Test level, his quality has never been in doubt.

2017 saw the former Brighton College student make his professional debut for Quins at the age of 18 against London Irish at Twickenham in a season opener.

Then, a fortnight later, he picked up the Man of the Match award after helping Quins defeat Wasps, ending the latter’s 20-match winning streak at the Ricoh Arena.

In his path to become England’s regular Test starter at 10, Smith has veterans Owen Farrell and George Ford jostling for position, with the latter having started the new season on fire for Leicester.

But if Smith can carry his precocious performances of 2021 for Quins into the Autumn, you’d be hard pressed to bet against Eddie Jones selecting him.

Smith’s talent has never been in doubt – after all, Jones did name him in the 33-man England senior training squad ahead of the 2017 Autumn Internationals.

Marcus Smith

Having previously represented England throughout the age groups growing up, Smith was also part of the training squad for the 2018 Six Nations Championship.

And his ability to produce individual moments of magic was clear for all to see on his return to Premiership action for Quins in their thrilling 52-24 victory over Bristol Bears.

Coming off the bench in the first half, Smith kicked six conversions and chased down his own kick to score a remarkable try with England head coach Jones watching on.

It was further evidence of what a frighteningly good prospect England have on their hands, a player who appears to be getting better with every game he plays.

The Autumn Nations Series will see Jones and England face off against Tonga (6 November), Australia (13 November) and South Africa (20 November).

And having made such a strong case for being handed the starting No.10 jersey, the Autumn Tests could provide Smith the platform to really announce himself on the world stage.


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