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Greenwood wants Smith-Farrell axis binned, Woodward explains why it can't be

By Ian Cameron
Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell /PA

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One of the biggest talking points to come out of England’s first Test defeat to the Wallabies in Perth is whether or not the Marcus Smith at 10, Owen Farrell at 12 axis should be persisted with.

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On the evidence of Saturday, many now think the answer to that question is a firm no.

The experimental partnership allows England head coach Eddie Jones to play the tried and trusted Farrell alongside the young Smith, a two-hander that could in theory give England the best of both worlds: an attack-minded flyhalf Smith who plays flat to the line, hedged against the game management and experience of Farrell at 12. It also offers England a dual kicking option.

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Post-match press conference with England head coach Eddie Jones and captain Courtney Lawes following their 30-28 loss to Australia.
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Post-match press conference with England head coach Eddie Jones and captain Courtney Lawes following their 30-28 loss to Australia.

Reports from within the England camp have insisted that the chemistry is there between the pair in training, but they have so far failed to click in the white-hot furnace of Test rugby.

Former England and British & Irish Lions centre Will Greenwood doesn’t see it working.

“It is like Mick Jagger and Harry Styles,” said Greenwood on Sky Sports. “Owen Farrell is like Mick Jagger, he is like an aging rocker, just so good, so much muscle memory about winning, whether you like him or not he is a winner.

“Then Marcus Smith is like your Harry Styles – I want to be him and I am going to go on to become him but I am not him yet.

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“The interesting thing about it is they are both lead singers and you don’t have two lead singers in the band.

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“I think you pick one of them and let them lead the team then have a pair of centres next to them and one sits on the bench.”

“When you play them both, when they got under pressure, it just looked a little bit disjointed and they didn’t look to be playing their natural game.

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“For your fly-half, for your lead singer, you have just got to let them go front and centre and own it.”

There’s a simple problem though for Jones in ending the pairing, one Sir Clive Woodward pointed out in his most recent Mail on Sunday column.

“There is no way Jones will move away from Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell at 10 and 12, but this is where he has got himself into a hole,” wrote Woodward. “There isn’t anyone else to pick at 12.

“Guy Porter and Fraser Dingwall are options and Porter was on the bench in the first Test, but they are rookies. It’s such a crucial position.

“It’s difficult to blood a new player there, especially when there are other inexperienced players around you.”

 

 

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