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The Northampton injury update on England hopeful Fin Smith

By Liam Heagney
Northampton' Fin Smith during the Gallagher Premiership final (Photo by Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Fin Smith isn’t expected to be an injury concern when Steve Borthwick sits down on Sunday to select his England tour squad which will be publicly confirmed on Monday.

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The 22-year-old missed the closing 10 minutes of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership final through injury, leaving the field on 70 minutes with Northampton yet to create the converted try that earned them the title on a 25-21 scoreline versus Bath.

The out-half was part of three England match day squads last February, coming off the bench in Italy and then earning a second cap in Scotland and being left an unused sub at home to Wales.

He is now expected to be selected as one of three out-halves along with George Ford and Marcus Smith for a tour featuring the June 22 match in Tokyo against Japan and then the two-Test July series in New Zealand.

Asked to provide an injury update on Smith, Northampton boss Phil Dowson reported: “He had very bad cramp… we felt that the best thing to do would be to put TJ (Tom James) on and have George (Furbank) slot in at 10.”

Kicks

14
Total Kicks
19
1:10.7
Kick To Pass Ratio
1:5.4

Having arrived at Franklin’s Gardens in November 2022 following the collapse of Worcester, Smith took over at out-half from Toulon-bound Dan Biggar and he has excelled this season, featuring in 18 of Northampton’s 20 league games (16 as a starter) and also starting all seven matches in their run to the Investec Champions Cup semi-finals.

Despite doing so well, director of rugby Dowson claimed after the league title win that Smith’s frequent frustration with his own level of performance will push him onto even greater things. “You forget that he is 22. He is mature beyond his years, he is incredibly ambitious and driven,” he explained.

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“He is frustrated, he is always the harshest critic so he is always frustrated with some element of his game that hasn’t gone as well as he would have liked to have done and that is where the growth is.

“A bit like Courtney (Lawes), he is always pushing, always wants to be better, it’s never quite right and that bodes really well for the future and makes sure we can give as much guidance around how his game can grow.

“To put the game on his back and be that playmaker and the fulcrum of our attack is huge. We love him, we have loved him since we watched him at Worcester, Sam Vesty and I. We know what he is capable of and he is going to get better.”

Dowson paid tribute to the role departing skipper Lawes played in nurturing young talent such as Smith throughout the 2023/24 campaign. “He has been fairly humble in his answer about how much he has added to the group because we have got a young group.

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“There is no hiding that and his presence and his confidence is really, really obvious throughout the group in games like today, games like last week, games at Croke Park where Courtney has been there and done that on the biggest stage and players look to him.

“That’s something that’s an intangible. You can’t really put a figure on it but that has a huge impact on the players around the group and the players have grown. He has allowed them to grow and show them the way to play these games.”

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Mzilikazi 2 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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S
Shaylen 4 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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