Marcus Smith: Nick Evans backs England star to play key role off the bench against Wales as he recalls Dan Carter era

Marcus Smith at England training Credit: Alamy
Marcus Smith at England training Credit: Alamy

England attack coach Nick Evans has highlighted the importance of Marcus Smith’s role ahead of facing Wales in the Six Nations on Saturday.

Fly-half Smith is once again on the bench for the Red Rose but Evans insists he has a “very important” job to play at the Principality Stadium this weekend.

The England star wore number 10 in their Six Nations opener against Scotland before Owen Farrell was preferred in the playmaking position against Italy.

Smith stays on bench

That move has been rolled out again on Saturday against Wales as Smith waits his turn off the bench, with Evans expecting a positive impact from the back.

“Marcus has been brilliant and every player on the bench has got a very important role to play,” said ex-All Black Evans, who used to coach Smith at Quins.

“I was sat behind a pretty good player a lot of times in Dan Carter. I know what it feels like to be in that position, so I am able to give them advice.

“Are you just watching the game or actually seeing what’s happening on the field?

“We have a real clear communication pathway to Marcus and what’s expected of him when he comes on.

“His role will be different at times, because it’s different to when you’re starting or you’re on the bench, but he will have a big impact.

“We’re not asking him to go out and be Owen, we’re asking him to go out there and be Marcus Smith.”

Wales have made several changes for this clash and much of the focus has been on the new midfield combination that sees Mason Grady link up with Joe Hawkins.

“He’s a big boy,” said Evans on Grady. “But we’ve done our research and look at how they operate.

“It’s a good challenge for us, to keep us on our toes, but the focus is on what we can do.

“Ollie Lawrence and Henry Slade have had a game under their belt. Ollie deserved his man of the match (against Italy) and gives us a real focal point.

Exciting midfield battle

“We asked that of him, to bring his strengths and what he’s been doing at Bath into the game.

“Sladey’s a brilliant tactician and that ball player out in the centre we’ve seen for Exeter and in the England jersey before. We’ve had another week with that combination and we’re looking forward to developing it.”

Preparations for this Cardiff meeting have been dominated by the crisis engulfing Welsh rugby and the threatened player strike that put the match in jeopardy.

Wales’ players eventually made a deal with the game’s bosses on Wednesday evening to allow the contest to go ahead, with Evans asked his view on the matter.

“I sympathise with them a lot, that uncertainty around those players. Being on the other side as a player you want that certainty,” said the new England coach.

“But we know that any player who puts the Welsh jersey on will play with pride, representing the country with an immense amount of intensity.”

READ MORE: Wales v England: Six Nations preview as Red Rose set to edge the wounded Welsh in tense encounter in Cardiff

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