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'Smith is the English Russell' - Farrell must make way says former England 10

By Ian Cameron
Marcus Smith and Sam Underhill may both start for England this Autumn (Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Former England international flyhalf Stuart Barnes has urged Eddie Jones to start Marcus Smith in the Number 10 spot ahead of England incumbent Owen Farrell this Autumn.


Smith shone for Harlequins as they played their way to a remarkable underdog victory in last season’s Gallagher Premiership and subsequently won a call-up to both England and the British & Irish Lions.

An attacking playmaker, Smith’s ability to unlock defences with his footwork and passing offers England a very different option to the game managing, hard-hitting Farrell, who has struggled for form in 2021.

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Although a hot favourite at the start the Tests at the beginning of the year, Farrell was overlooked by Lions head coach Warren Gatland for the series, ultitmately playing a relatively minor role from the bench.

As a result of Smith’s fine form and the Saracens’ man’s lack of it, pressure is continue to mount on Jones to start 22-year-old in the November Tests. Writing in his Times column, Stuart Barnes insists Smith must start if he is to develop ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

“Smith offers the ‘other’ option, the one Finn Russell brought to the third [Lions] Test,” wrote Barnes. “Smith is the English Russell. Like the Scot he is not a maverick. He’s an intelligent player with razor-sharp instincts. He has been trained to see things as they unravel in front of him. The antithesis of Farrell, who has appeared the ultimate game-plan player throughout the Jones years.”

“To play anyone but Smith this autumn would be to strip bare any talk of 2023 planning as empty rhetoric. Two years out from the World Cup, there is plenty of time for Farrell to reignite his case, back in the improving Premiership.


“But Smith has less time to grow into a Test match 10. All the evidence indicates he has the skill, nerve, wit and kicking boots to pull England from the mess of their own making.”

“Of course, there’s also the issue of a new captain. England need one. There is one in waiting and, after a summer break from the laptop, this is the first subject to be tackled.”


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