Rejuvenated Harlequins have expressed delight with how Marcus Smith has been performing in recent weeks since signing his new contract, assistant coach Jerry Flannery adding that he is glad the youngster has been with them this spring rather than away on Six Nations duty with England.
With the 2021 Guinness Six Nations turning out poorly for Eddie Jones, there have been questions as to why he won’t shake-up his squad and make use of the likes of the 22-year-old Smith who is uncapped at Test level but has played for England against the Barbarians in 2019 and was involved in training camps last year.
England’s loss has been the gain of Harlequins in recent times, the clinical form of Smith to the fore in helping them overcome the loss of director of rugby Paul Gustard. The London club won their first four games post-Gustard and were only beaten last weekend by Newcastle by a late kick at Kingston Park.
All the while, Smith has been showing off his array of talents, an ability that Harlequins were chuffed to retain when the out-half inked his new deal at the club on February 10 after he had been linked with moves elsewhere in the Premiership and to the Top 14 in France.
“He is very, very ambitious,” said assistant Flannery, who arrived at Harlequins last summer before the restart of the 2019/20 Premiership campaign after taking a year out from coaching following his exit from Munster. “That is the thing when you meet him, he is not just talented but he is very, very ambitious.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 3, 2021
“He is very driven. He is pretty much the last guy off the training pitch every single time in terms of the S&C lads having to manage Marcus. They say, ‘Marcus, please man, get off the pitch. Save something for the weekend’. So he is a hard worker.
“He is very, very talented and I suppose the fact that England haven’t gone well, everyone starts looking at him and saying he should be in with England. But he is playing well for us and I’m glad he is with is. I’m glad he isn’t with England at the moment because he is a really good player.
“He is still so young, he’s just 22, but he epitomises a lot of what it is to be a Harlequin with the way he plays. When Marcus is firing he is very difficult to mark because he can create something from nothing.”
Flannery added that Smith’s decision to remain at Harlequins was a massive boost internally for the club following the January departure of Gustard, who will coach next season at Benetton in the revamped Guinness PRO16.
“With Gussy leaving, if we were to lose Marcus and he was to move on, the game goes on always and we would have kept going but it would probably have seen as quite a negative thing from the club’s point of view.
“It’s well done to Laurie (Dalrymple, CEO) and (general manager) Billy Millard in securing Marcus. It is great that Marcus sees that the club has real ambition and a real plan on what it is looking to do over the next three, four years and he wants to be part of that.”
'Coming into a professional environment it’s probably a wake-up call' @alex_dombrandt had to shed 10kg when came to @harlequins He talks to @heagneyl ??? about uni, the assaults that nearly ended his career, England and why Gussy is off-limitshttps://t.co/PxmwYDAJOx
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 31, 2021
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