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'What we are seeing from him is more like when he played at Brighton College'

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Eddie Jones has given his verdict on the current form of rejuvenated Harlequins out-half Marcus Smith ahead of the June 10 England squad announcement for the summer series which consists of matches against Scotland A, the USA and Canada. The uncapped 22-year-old has been blazing a trail in recent months in the Gallagher Premiership since signing a contract extension and committing his future to title-chasing Quins.

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With England skipper Owen Farrell on tour with the Lions and the potential for the seasons George Ford to take a summer backseat, there is optimism that Jones might turn to Smith two years after he last appeared in an England shirt when they played the Barbarians at Twickenham in the June 2019 uncapped exhibition.

Jones held a media session this week ahead of the squad announcement, his first dealings with the press since fulfilling his post-game duties following the March 20 Guinness Six Nations loss to Ireland in Dublin.

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The England coach refused to indulge speculation that Smith will be chosen, stating: “We’ll see. That is all to be answered next week.” However, he said more than enough to add fuel to the fire that the Harlequins No10 is on track to potentially earn that elusive debut Test cap.

“He has really benefited from increased ruck speed,” said Jones, explaining what he likes about what Smith has lately been producing for his club.

“What we are seeing from him is more like when he played at Brighton College. I remember watching him in 2015 at Brighton College where when there was something on he took it and maybe for a period of time he was more likely to be a pattern player. He is getting a nice balance in his game between understanding the responsibilities of getting the team organised but then playing what is in front of him and his development is really positive.”

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With their place in the playoffs secured, Harlequins are expecting Smith to hear good news next week. Assistant coach Nick Evans, the ex-All Blacks out-half, has been enthused by the youngster’s progress in recent months. “He has performed well enough to get an opportunity on the tour,” reckoned Evans at last week’s club media briefing. “It will depend on how Eddie feels and what make-up of the team he wants to go for, but Marcus has done unbelievably well in putting his hand up and foot in the door.

“One of the main things he has concentrated on is playing well for Quins. In the past, even he would admit he has looked forward too much on how to get into England whereas this year he has done amazingly well to focus on Quins and make sure his performances, skillset and tactical nous has been right for us. He has done a fantastic job, put his foot in the door, so we will have to wait and see now.”

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'What we are seeing from him is more like when he played at Brighton College'

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