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The biggest learning Marcus Smith recently got off Jonny Wilkinson

By PA
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Marcus Smith is convinced he will avoid falling into the fame trap outlined as a potential pitfall by England head coach Eddie Jones. Smith took ownership of the fly-half duties during the recent autumn series that produced victories over Tonga, Australia and South Africa, but he was also cautioned by Jones over the need to stay grounded. The Harlequins playmaker is the rising star of English rugby and is expected to direct operations at the 2023 World Cup, but Jones is concerned by the possible “distractions” facing young players.

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Smith, however, insists that his brothers Luke and Thomas will help ensure he keeps his focus. “I’m very confident about dealing with it. I’m very lucky to be 22 years old and have a brilliant team around me to support me and put their arm around me,” Smith said.

“Brighton is not too far from here so if ever I need an escape and a break it’s easy to get down there, eat my mum’s rice and enjoy my brothers’ company. It’s nice to have amazing people around me and I am really grateful for that. I hope my brothers are proud of me. I wouldn’t have done any of those things without them.

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Ex-All Blacks prop John Afoa guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload
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“They have both been truly supportive to me as well as challenging me, which I love. I still remember loads of times we used to go to the park and try to sidestep each other. They would mug me off or read my sidestep, which would frustrate the hell out of me. Again that’s what we enjoyed doing growing up.

“Those two guys are paramount to my career. They will definitely keep me grounded. After the South Africa game, they were laughing at my drop goal, so I have got to work on that. My parents will be protective when they need to be, but they will also celebrate with me when I achieve something that they are proud of. I have got a brilliant balance in my mum and dad and two younger brothers.

“Whatever happens, whether positive or negative, I’m very confident that they will guide me on the right path. Every single young player who has played for England will have had it at some point and for me, it’s about surrounding myself with brilliant people who are able to share their bits of wisdom. As long as I continue to listen to them and be open to their feedback then hopefully I can stay on the path I am on now, but it’s not a straight line.”

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Smith was mentored by Jonny Wilkinson during the recent autumn campaign, completing two sessions a week with the ex-England great. “For me, the biggest learning I got off him was in terms of mental preparation,” Smith said. “I learned to deal with things that don’t always go your way, how to deal with things that do go your way and just how to live and how to be a good person.”

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