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Marcus Smith 'on verge of being world class'

By PA
Marcus Smith - PA

Harlequins boss Tabai Matson believes Marcus Smith is on the brink of becoming a world-class fly-half after watching him orchestrate the Sharks’ downfall in a 39-29 Heineken Champions Cup victory.

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Smith pulled the strings as Quins clinched their first win in any competition since December 18, their five-point haul in excellent conditions securing a place in the round of 16 and keeping alive the possibility of a home tie.

An ankle problem sidelined Smith for the last two months until his comeback against Racing 92 last weekend and on Monday he will enter the England camp with the aim of retaining the number 10 jersey he wore in the autumn.

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“For Marcus to do 80 minutes two games in a row and be in really good physical condition after that injury is phenomenal,” Matson said. “It shows his work ethic, his preparation, because you would never have thought he had that much time out of the game.

“He’s great to watch. He’s clearly a quality player and is verging on being world-class.

“When the conditions are right and he’s got a forward pack that does what it does and we win the physicality battle, he’s always going to look good on the front foot.”

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The four-try demolition of a Sharks side that paraded South Africa stars Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Ox Nche and Lukhanyo Am was the last Quins game overseen by Matson’s assistant Nick Evans before he takes charge of England’s attack for the Six Nations.

“We’ve all been really desperate to play in really good conditions and get back to scoring tries,” Matson said. “On a day like that Nick orchestrated a pretty good gameplan that when it’s executed looks pretty spectacular.

“This win feels really good for a number of reasons. It’s been five weeks since we’ve won so to be back in the winning circle, playing in a manner we’re really proud of and delivering a good performance with five tries. It’s a great feeling.”

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