England head coach Eddie Jones agrees Marcus Smith has an important role to play for his country, but he won’t be expected to go it alone.
The Harlequins opener is one of many young talents who seized their opportunities during the fall and helped England win an unbeaten streak against Tonga, Australia and South Africa.
The Red Rose finished their November roster with a relentless 27-26 victory over the Springboks on Saturday, where Smith managed to lead the ship while Captain Owen Farrell was injured.
Excitement continues to build around Smith’s development in the run-up to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, but Jones is eager to ensure that the focus remains on the team as a whole.
When asked by Sky Sports if Smith would become the basis for his last campaign at the helm, the 61-year-old said rugby would not allow this kind of one-dimensional thinking.
Reuters / John Sibley)
“You cannot build the team around one player, because in international rugby, [you] very rarely your best players are available all the time, ”Jones said.
“But he’s definitely one of the key guys going forward, that if he keeps his form, his fitness and his desire, he’ll be an important part of the squad.
“All the media right now are talking about him as the pin-up of English rugby.
“We just have to make sure we give him the care and support he needs. He’s a good boy, he has a good family, and I’m sure he’s going to continue in the right direction.”
Jones’ description of his latest star as a “key person” is at least an acknowledgment of the special talent he has.
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It could easily be argued that Smith provides England with something they’ve never had before, and while team tactics remain paramount, he offers skills few others can.
“This fall he has continued to improve, has continued to impress, and we don’t know how good he can be,” Jones added after Smith started to pick up wins against Australia and South Africa. South.
These were the 22-year-old’s first two starts against Level 1 opponents, and most fans would agree that he passed the exams with flying colors.
The same could be said for Leicester Tigers full-back, 20-year-old Freddie Steward, who scored decisive tries in England’s two main autumn tests.
Jones was recently criticized for using British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu to illustrate how young sports stars can let their standards slip in the face of distractions off the pitch.
NurPhoto / PA Images)
However, he will have work to keep his young stars down to earth, with 20-year-old scrum-half Raffi Quirke also in the headlines after his crucial try against South Africa.
The coach agreed his team have “a really good mix at the moment”, with a number of his more experienced assets eyeing their final shot to World Cup glory in just under two years.
Barring unforeseen obstacles, it’s a guarantee that Smith and Steward will be vital members of the England setup by then, such is their progress so early in their careers.
It will lead to a natural increase in attention, but Jones is determined to believe that no man can be considered the heartbeat of the team, regardless of the rare potential they have presented so far. .