Marcus Smith excited to be part of a ‘new journey’ for evolving England squad

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Marcus Smith spoke of a new era for England after producing a devastating cameo that helped launch the Autumn Nations Series with a 69-3 victory over Tonga.

Smith has declared himself fit for Australia’s visit to Twickenham on Saturday after defying the leg injury that confined him to a bench role against the Islanders to amass a 15-point haul composed of a try and five conversions.

On the pitch for just 29 minutes, his arrival inspired a second wind at a point when his team led 36-3 but the flow of tries had been stemmed by determined yet limited opposition.

Marcus Smith celebrates after scoring England's ninth try against Tonga
Marcus Smith celebrates after scoring England’s ninth try against Tonga (Adam Davy/PA)

England intend building their challenge for the 2023 World Cup around the electric 22-year-old and as he intelligently orchestrated play, running in one touch down and directly setting up another, he outlined an exciting vision for the future.

Far tougher tests are to come against Australia and South Africa over the next two weekends, but the 11-try demolition was a genuine step forwards for a team that has been freshened up since finishing fifth in the Six Nations.

“It was the start of the new journey for us. As a squad, there are a lot of new faces and a lot of older faces,” Smith said.

“To play against Tonga at home in front of a sell out crowd was special. To have a sell-out crowd supporting us on this new journey was amazing.

“We stressed after the game that this is only the start of the journey. It was nice to score 69 points at home against a very good Tonga team.

“However, we have loads to work on. It’s a massively exciting squad and we’re desperate to improve this week. All of us are desperate to keep getting better individually as well.

“That will hopefully make us collectively better. I’m massively excited to be a part of it. It’s a special feeling we’ve got but it’s another big week and another big game ahead.

“Massive credit to Tonga, they came with a lot of passion and a lot of determination. The boys who started the first-half were amazing. They set the platform for the game. They smashed it in the first-half.

“The finishers at half-time were told to bring an energy and bring an impact and that was our job. All of us tried to do that when we came on and I really enjoyed my run on to the field.”

Smith excelled despite being limited to one training session all week because of the unspecified leg injury that meant when Owen Farrell was ruled out by a positive Covid test, it was George Furbank who started at fly-half.

Furbank performed with distinction, showing his own flourishes in attack, but the roar that greeted Smith when he arrived on to the pitch reflected who the crowd had really come to see.

“My leg felt really good coming on to the field. The medical team with England guided me throughout the week and gave me the go-ahead to train on Friday and then play,” Smith said.

“I went out there with no holds barred and gave it my best. It felt really good out there and the leg feels good now.”

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