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The 'seething' reply Mike Brown gave when asked about Marcus Smith

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Former Test full-back Mike Brown has admitted that he understands why England are currently selecting Owen Farrell as their No10 but he reckoned Marcus Smith would have been seething to only get a few seconds off the bench in the Guinness Six Nations win over Wales.

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The 20-10 victory over the Welsh was already in the 80th minute when head coach Steve Borthwick made a triple substitution for the final play, sending on Smith, Henry Arundell and Jack Walker for what essentially were token caps.

This lack of involvement has resulted in Smith returning to Harlequins to get some Gallagher Premiership game time this Saturday ahead of preparations for the March 11 England match at home to France.

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Mike Brown and Ollie Lawrence | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 66

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Mike Brown and Ollie Lawrence | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 66

Asked on RugbyPass Offload how p***ed of Smith would have been at getting approximately 28 seconds for England versus Wales, Brown said: “Knowing Marcus the way I do, he is ultra-competitive – that is what makes him so good – so he will be seething.

“He wants to be the main man. He wants to be out there, he wants to be representing England. That is why he works so hard. He is an ultra-competitor as well, he wants to be in the battle, in the competition.

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“Yeah, he would have been desperate to get on as soon as possible. I didn’t get that, going on for that short amount of time. The only thing I could think was they could have got a bonus point and they had a scrum and maybe they thought they could get something out the backside and go the length and get that bonus point when the game was already wrapped up.”

Currently at Leicester, Brown was a teammate of Smith at Harlequins before moving to Newcastle in the summer of 2021. He was also a long-time colleague of Farrell with England, so he is perfectly placed to discuss the merits of the current Test selection where Farrell is now the starting No10 with Smith on the bench.

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“To be fair to Owen he has started this season with Saracens unbelievably well. He dipped off last season and I definitely was one of his critics, but he has been brilliant for Sarries at the start of this year whereas Marcus had a few injuries and probably hasn’t hit the ground running as much as he would like to.

“If you are going on form, probably Owen. If you are going off the way they [England] want to play, clearly it’s Owen and he is the captain. They [Smith and Farrell as a 10/12 combination] definitely weren’t working well together. I said that from the off knowing the personalities they have and the way they like to play, it just clashes.

“So it wasn’t working and I am glad Steve has made that big decision – you put one of them at 10 and the other one on the bench. Unfortunately for Marcus at the moment it’s Owen (who is starting). Things can change but I can’t see it happening at the moment.

“If you look at that backline, if you had Jack van Poortvliet, Marcus and Ollie (Lawrence), it’s quite a young, inexperienced nine, 10, 12 as well so that probably plays on the coach’s mind, especially with such a short time where they have got to get some wins and confidence.”

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