England: Attack coach Nick Evans sees value in the Marcus Smith-Owen Farrell axis

England's Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith talk during a game. Credit: Alamy
England's Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith talk during a game. Credit: Alamy

England attack coach Nick Evans believes that the Marcus Smith-Owen Farrell axis can work if everyone is on the same page.

Former head coach Eddie Jones pushed hard for the partnership to succeed between two of England’s most talented players. Unfortunately, whilst it worked in small patches, the rest of the attack suffered.

Potential in the axis

However, Evans, who has only just come into his role in the England backroom staff, believes that if there is a lot more clarity the axis can work.

“There’s no reason why they can’t play together,” Evans said.

“But you have to be very clear about what you are trying to achieve, how you are doing this, what the detail looks like. Once everyone is clear on that then you can go through with it.

“Some of the feedback was that maybe that wasn’t there, so maybe there was a bit of a crossover. It’s just about making sure that you’re very clear on roles and responsibilities.

“Sometimes the old death by detail can be a thing. The over-complicating of things.

“As coaches, we don’t get much time with the players. We’ve got a week with them and then we’re playing Scotland in the first game, so the information needs to be really clear and direct.

“The players need to go on to the field and have a really clear understanding of how we want to play.”

Alignment between coaches

Evans was behind a glorious attacking showing from Harlequins in their Premiership title triumph in 2020/2021 but knows that the structures cannot be simply copied and pasted into the England set-up.

“I imagine there are a lot of people maybe thinking naively that the Harlequins structure will be thrown into England. I know that won’t work,” he said.

“It’s about having real alignment with the coaches around the style that we want to play and the mindset in how we want to play in all areas.

“There’s just not enough time to change everything and I don’t think everything needs changing. My focus is around bringing energy and clarity over when we have ball in hand.”

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