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The Dan Carter pointer that augurs well for England rookie Smith

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Eddie Jones has hinted that England rookie Marcus Smith could have a glittering Test career ahead of him, especially if he follows the trajectory and longevity that was enjoyed by former All Blacks talisman Dan Carter. The now-retired 39-year-old New Zealander enjoyed a 112-cap Test career that continued on successfully at club level for a number of years after he represented the All Blacks for the last time in the 2015 World Cup final win over Australia.

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Carter had three seasons in France at Racing, two at the Steelers in Japan before calling it quits following an injury-hit Super Rugby Aotearoa stint at the Blues in 2020, and his name cropped up when Jones spoke about the growth capabilities that Smith has in front of him now that he is set to make his England debut at the age of 22.

Smith initially featured in an uncapped England XV versus the Barbarians in June 2019 but he has been made to wait 25 months before getting handed the No10 shirt for a Test match which will be played at Twickenham eight days after he lit up the stadium with his gutsy performance in Harlequins’ Gallagher Premiership final win over Exeter.

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The moment when the lights went out at a Springboks media briefing

“He is ready now,” insisted Jones, explaining the two-year wait that Smith has gone through. “There is a greater degree of consistency about his game. His decision-making has improved, his ability to be effective in defence has improved but he is a very young 10, he is 22 years of age.

“I was just telling some of the senior players there that Dan Carter played his best rugby at 35, so Marcus is really moving in the right direction. We have got another young bloke in Jacob Umaga and George Furbank there. They are all young 10s, they are all learning their craft and they are all moving in the right direction – and Marcus is at the head of the queue at the moment.”

It is nearly six years since Jones first clapped eyes on Smith, the coach taking an evening off from coaching Japan at the 2015 World Cup to check out a teenager he first heard about through an acquaintance in Asia. “He is a bright, young talent. I happened to be a social friend of his godfather who I met in Hong Kong. He told me about him and then we had our camp down in Brighton College. It was a Wednesday night, a cold, wet night, and I went and watched them play.

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“It might have been the week of the South Africa game and he definitely had some talent. There is plenty of boys with talent, but he has managed to work hard, come up with a game that is only in its infancy at the moment. It is exciting for him to get the opportunity on Sunday and whatever he does on Sunday he will be better the next time he plays.”

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The Dan Carter pointer that augurs well for England rookie Smith

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