Marcus Looks To Japan
January 25 2019
Quins fly-half Marcus Smith may have been included as an apprentice in recent England training squads, but the precocious 19-year-old is already aiming much higher as he looks to fast-track his dream of playing for the senior side.
Smith has featured alongside Eddie Jones's squad in training sessions over the last 18 months, a huge statement in itself given his age, but with a World Cup coming later this year the youngster wants to put himself in the reckoning in time for Japan.
Jones has already announced his squad for the start of next month’s Six Nations with Smith missing out, but with the news that first-choice fly-half and captain Owen Farrell might be a doubt for the Ireland game following his reaction to a thumb operation, Jones may be forced to call up cover for Farrell.
Ireland start the tournament as odds-on Six Nations favourites, with England fancied second at odds of around 3/1 across iPhone betting apps. Ireland are consequently 1/3 favourites with the bookies to beat England in the opening fixture at the Aviva Stadium, so there is already significant pressure on England to prove the bookmakers wrong with or without Farrell in the squad.
It is likely that Danny Cipriani would be called up ahead of Smith if another fly-half were needed and the Six Nations squad already includes Leicester’s George Ford and Exeter’s Henry Slade who are understandably ahead in the pecking order.
Smith isn’t fazed by the big name competition he faces however, rather looking to learn from his esteemed elders, which he hopes will help him force his way into the senior squad sooner or later.
“It’s every kid’s dream to play for England,” Smith said speaking in an interview with the Daily Mail earlier this month. “I was lucky enough to have the opportunity last year to train a little bit, rub shoulders with Owen Farrell, George Ford, Danny Cipriani and it was just an unbelievable experience. I just wanted to take my learning from there and bring them back (to Harlequins).”
“I guess I’ve just got to try and keep performing for Quins, keep working, keep my head down, work hard and hopefully I’ll get the call.”
With the form shown by Ford at Leicester recently and likewise Cipriani, who has forced his way back into the frame with a series of outstanding displays for Gloucester, it may well be that Smith has to wait a little longer than this year’s World Cup to finally get his call.
But one thing that is common amongst all of sport’s most successful stars is the ambition that they display in their formative years, which quite often is beyond their reach. If not Japan in 2019, certainly by the time France 2023 comes around don’t be surprised if you see Smith in contention for the England No. 10.
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