The message the Lions have given to Marcus Smith, their latest 10
Warren Gatland has given a message to his latest Lions No10 Marcus Smith – to go and make a few people sit up and take notice. The 22-year-old lit up Twickenham in recent weeks, starring in Harlequins’ stunning Gallagher Premiership title win over Exeter and then earning his first two England caps against the USA and Canada.
It was during the second half of that second cap versus the Canadians last Saturday that the news broke that Smith was being called up by the Lions in South Africa and he was left stunned in the Twickenham tunnel when told that he was wanted by Gatland.
It meant him abandoning his plan to attend the final of Euro 2020 on the Sunday night featuring the England footballers and he instead headed to Heathrow to catch a flight that would bring him to South Africa as injury cover for Finn Russell who has suffered a slight tear to his achilles.
With Dan Biggar also nursing an ankle injury that Gatland wants freshened up this weekend and Owen Farrell having been thrown in to start at the eleventh hour versus South Africa A on Wednesday, the Lions have now opted to hand Smith the No10 jersey for this Saturday’s clash with the Stormers, their last preparation match before the three-game Test series begins on July 24.
Gatland is eager to see how the rookie out-half goes. “There is no doubt he has developed as a player in the last twelve months and he has had an outstanding year for Harlequins. He got a couple of caps for England which is brilliant.
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“He is a young man, he is incredibly enthusiastic, he is a bit of a sponge in terms of soaking up all the knowledge and talking to players in the group. There is no doubt he has got some real attacking prowess, he has matured significantly and we are really excited about him having an opportunity to start.
“We were initially looking at him coming off the bench but the message to him is just to go out there and enjoy the occasion and make the most of it, go and make a few people sit up and take notice.”
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