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Harlequins 'victims of their own success' as England set to strip champs of key players

By Chris Jones
Marcus Smith is set to be England's first choice 10 /Getty

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Nick Evans, the Harlequins attack coach, admits the club are going to be “victims of their own success” with Luke Northmore tipped to become the latest player to be called up by England when Eddie Jones, the head coach, names his Six Nations squad tomorrow.

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Northmore’s form alongside outside half Marcus Smith means the reigning Premiership champions could be stripped of more than a third of their team by Jones with Joe Marler, Will Collier, Alex Dombrandt, Louis Lynagh, and Joe Marchant also in the England selection mix.

Evans is confident Northmore is ready to follow fellow former Cardiff Met student Dombrandt into test rugby and believes the mercurial Smith can be the first choice No10 for Jones even with George Ford excelling for Leicester this season.

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Evans, who is preparing the team to face Castres in the Heineken Champions Cup on Friday night, said: “We could be a victim of our own success. It is why you coach and you want to see these guys live their dream and play international rugby and see the joy they get. Winning the Premiership and a doing well in the Champions Cup puts us in the shop window. I will be delighted for the guys who get the opportunity and it just means we have to work extra hard with the squad we have.

“Marcus has managed a tough period for the team which has tested the way we play. Marcus has, along with Danny Care been a big part of navigating that and from a coach’s point of view, the way he has got us out of positions and into positions has been impressive and I am sure Eddie (Jones) has seen that. A lot of talk is about what he creates but he has added a lot more to his game in the last couple of years.

“Both Marcus and George (Ford) are playing really well. George has led a team that has been top of the table for most the season and is performing exceptionally well and he is also an attacking threat as well although we don’t see that as much with Leicester. He has that ability to run a game and is world class along with his kicking and decision-making. I have not doubt he will be in the England reckoning and Marcus is improving all the time and offers something different; something more intuitive.

“People probably don’t see his game management and it’s something he has worked and is self aware. I am sure England have a pretty stringent kicking plan and he will have to follow that but if the defence switches off he has the ability to punish teams and that is the beauty of Marcus – that ability to play what he sees and he can open teams up.

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“Luke has a really good pedigree like Alex in Wales and has a good feel for the game and is a massive impact player for us. What he offers is a real physicality in defence, is a constant threat with ball in hand and is deceptively quick for a centre. His communication is good and is not afraid to boss people about and has a real competitive edge. It would be an amazing opportunity if he does get into the squad.”

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