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The clues that Marcus Smith's kicking technique was 'shaky'

By Ian Cameron
Marcus Smith /PA

Former Ireland winger Shane Horgan has suggested that Harlequins star Marcus Smith may have lacked confidence in his kicking during his side’s loss to Montpellier in the Heineken Champions Cup.

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Smith missed a relatively easy conversion of wing Louis Lynagh’s 75th-minute try in a 33-20 round-of-16 second-leg win at Twickenham Stoop.

It meant the English champions’ bid for a first European Cup quarter-final appearance since 2013 ended in a 60-59 aggregate defeat.

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Horgan believes that there may have been clues along the way that suggested Smith’s technique was off.

“Pressure manifests in different ways. We see it right through the game. A beautiful track, sun shining down, last couple minutes of the game, on a high… that [kick] should go over.

“That is without a doubt the difference between them going through.

“Honestly, he’s not a bad kicker. But actually his first kick today was a bit of a hack. It was a bit of dead duck sideways over the crossbar.

“Another thing that I noticed, a little bit later on in the game, they brought up the centre, [Andre] Esterhuizen to kick a ball to touch with a left foot, which I thought was unusual as well.

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“If a 10 is very confident about the way he’s kicking the ball, even if there’s a good left-footer, he would go ‘no, I do everything’. I wonder if he was a little bit shaky in his own technique,” concluded Horgan.

Although he had a try disallowed, Smith had played brilliantly during other points in the game, most notably in the lead up to Harlequin’s sublime try in the 28th minute.

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Harlequins senior coach Tabai Matson said the England star would be hurting and didn’t need to be told that he stuffed up.

He (Smith) will be disappointed like all the players who have really high standards. It will hit him, but we play Leicester next week. Our Europe is over, that is the big thing, and that is gutting and it is how quickly you bounce.

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“As with all the guys that touch the ball the most, they get a bit of leeway because the margin of error is really hard.

“You don’t have to tell someone they missed a pass or missed a goal-kick. They know.

“It is not just him. He was there for the winning of the game at the end, but you can’t put the blame down to him,” said Matson.

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