Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
World World



'Daring, gallus and honest, Stuart Hogg has defined a Scottish era'

Stuart Hogg retires young, but retires a giant of Scottish sport.

RugbyPass+ Home

Exeter boss Rob Baxter wades into the Marcus Smith, England debate

(Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Exeter boss Rob Baxter has backed the decision to release Harlequins star Marcus Smith from England duty for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership clash against the Chiefs. Smith has played under nine minutes of Test rugby across the last two Guinness Six Nations games after starting England’s tournament opener against Scotland on February 4.


England captain Owen Farrell was the fly-half in Six Nations appointments with Italy and Wales, while Smith found himself reduced to brief cameos as a replacement. Smith was then omitted from a 26-man group for this week’s England training camp in Brighton, losing out to a fit-again George Ford.

While England head coach Steve Borthwick insisted that Smith will return for preparations to face France on Saturday week, his place in the matchday 23 now looks under serious threat. Smith looks set to line up for Harlequins when Exeter arrive at Twickenham and Baxter said: “The reality is that Marcus Smith needs to play. He has not played that much.

“Despite the howls of derision from pretty much every area of the press, it seems like very good management to me to let him go and play some rugby. I’m not necessarily pleased he has been let back to play some rugby! But I don’t think it is the wrong thing for him to get out and get back to his club and play some rugby.

“He is still a young player and the one thing you know young players want to do is to be on the field and playing. It is the right management of him to get him playing again.”


Exeter head to south-west London in fifth place, one point adrift of the playoff zone with six Premiership games left. Four of those fixtures are away from home, though, with the Chiefs having claimed just one league victory on their travels this term, beating Bristol five months ago.


Baxter added: “We haven’t had a great away record this season. We have got the results at home, but haven’t picked up the away wins. The table is going to shift week in and week out, and Saturday is a very important game.

“We have got to be open and honest about it. Unless we collect some points away from home, it is going to be a tough run-in for us. We have got ourselves in the (playoff) mix and if we want to stay in the mix, we have to collect points and stop other teams from collecting points.”


Join free and tell us what you really think!

Join Free
TRENDING Another Blues departure sparks concern from former NZR chief Forer NZR chief voices concern over exodus