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How Smith/Farrell measure up to some 'good examples historically'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones believes the new England ten/twelve partnership of rookie Marcus Smith alongside the seasoned Owen Farrell is a combination with the potential to go very well, not only on Saturday versus the Wallabies but long into the future as well. Isolation for Farrell and a lack of training for Smith put the new partnership on hold last weekend in the Autumn Nations Series opener versus Tonga. 

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Instead, England had to field a ten/twelve featuring George Furbank and Manu Tuilagi, but the stars have since aligned and they now head into battle with Smith paired with Farrell in a combination that Jones has predicted will prosper on the basis of some previous ten/twelve alliances he has watched with interest in the past. 

“I have seen a couple of good examples historically, Aaron Mauger and Dan Carter, Rod Kafer and Steve Larkham, that ability of the twelve to be the eyes and ears for the ten and take the pressure away from the ten and allow him to play his natural game,” explained Jones. 

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“They are constantly talking, constantly thinking about the game, and we believe they are going to be a really good combination, not just for this game but in the future.”

That said, Saturday is a huge challenge for Smith as it will be just his fourth Test cap and his first appearance versus tier one opposition. “It’s big, we are playing against a side that has beaten the world champions twice [the Springboks], so it is a huge step but is he capable of doing it? Of course, he is. He will rise to the challenge and handle it well but it is a big step for him.”

The 22-year-old Premiership title winner with Harlequins is one of many new faces in the England set-up since Jones revamped things with the summer series versus the USA and Canada. Even this weekend against the Australians there are two more uncapped players set to make Test debuts as Sale pair Bevan Rodd and Raffi Quirke have been named as replacements.

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“The general feeling in the squad is that the guys who have been in the squad, some since 2016 and before, is that the enthusiasm of these younger guys coming through is first class and everyone has really got a spring in their step. We are ready to take on a very good Australian team. We are a young team. We have got two new caps in our 23 for the game but we are ready to take them on, we’re ready to chase them down the street,” reckoned Jones.   

 

 

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