Chris Robshaw: ‘Exceptional talent’ Marcus Smith can sparkle for England during Autumn Internationals

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Chris Robshaw hopes that Marcus Smith will “get the chance to show the world what he can do” during tomorrow’s Autumn Nations Series opener against Tonga at a sell-out Twickenham.

The 35-year-old former England captain, who is now plying his trade with San Diego Legion in Major League Rugby in the US, watched the precociously-talented Smith as he came through the ranks at Harlequins, and is certain that the 22-year-old fly-half is ready to make his mark with England.

Smith suffered a slight knock in training at Pennyhill Park this week which almost certainly took away his opportunity of wearing the No10 jersey in Eddie Jones’s starting XV tomorrow, but will hope to feature off the bench against the South Sea islanders ahead of England’s other matches against Australia and South Africa.

“Marcus has exceptional talent – that has been clear since the day he first came into the Harlequins set-up as a kid,” said 35-year-old Robshaw, who earned 66 caps for his country – 43 of them as captain – and made 300 appearances for Quins.

“He still looks like that kid, but he’s a tough character, mentally strong and with a quick rugby brain. He’s only small but he never shies away from the physical side of the game. And, because of his size, he’s such a difficult player for opponents to get to.

“He took his chances well against the USA and Canada in the summer which led to his Lions call-up and, no disrespect to the USA and Canada, now he gets to step up a level.

“Hopefully he’ll get the chance against Tonga to show the world what he can do… and that’s to make a big statement.”

Current captain Farrell had been tipped to start at inside centre against Tonga to see Smith handed his first start on home soil and in front of returning fans, but will play in his favoured No10 role. Whatever the numbers on their backs, Robshaw is convinced that Smith has the talent and maturity to fit in when called upon.

“Playing alongside all that experience in Ben Youngs at scrum-half and Owen Farrell will undoubtedly make that next step easier for Marcus,” added Robshaw, who was hosting a dinner at Karma Sanctum Soho. “He’s always been a quick learner and having those sort of players around him will only help him develop into the superstar we always knew he would be.”

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