Marcus Smith: Rob Baxter supports Steve Borthwick’s call to release fly-half but wishes it wasn’t against Exeter
Exeter boss Rob Baxter has backed Marcus Smith’s return to club duty with Harlequins, but admits he’d have preferred it to be against another team.
Smith is set to start the Premiership clash between the two sides after being released by England coach Steve Borthwick ahead of a three-day training camp.
That move came after the mercurial fly-half played just nine minutes of Six Nations action against Italy and Wales, with Owen Farrell a firm fixture at 10.
George Ford is in the camp
Further intrigue surrounding Smith‘s absence from England‘s training camp in Brighton this week was that Sale’s George Ford was included by Borthwick.
Smith therefore will obviously hope to put in a statement showing on Saturday for the Premiership match, as Baxter understands Borthwick’s bold decision.
“The reality is that Marcus Smith needs to play. He has not played that much,” the Exeter boss said ahead of the game that will take place at Twickenham.
“Despite the howls of derision from pretty much every area of the press, it seems like very good management to me to let him go and play some rugby.
“I am not necessarily pleased he has been let back to play some rugby!
“But I don’t think it is the wrong thing for him to get out and get back to his club and play some rugby.
“He is still a young player, and the one thing you know young players want to do is to be on the field and playing.
“It is the right management of him to get him playing again.”
The race for the play-off places is heating up as Exeter currently sit one point off the top four, with Harlequins four points behind the Chiefs in eighth.
Six games remain and with four of those ties on the road, Exeter know they must improve their disappointing away form or risk missing the knockouts.
Away form needs improvement
“We haven’t had a great away record this season. We’ve got the results at home, but haven’t picked up the away wins,” said Baxter ahead of Saturday.
“The table is going to shift week in, week out, and Saturday is a very important game.
“We have got to be open and honest about it. Unless we collect some points away from home, it is going to be a tough run-in for us.
“We have got ourselves in the (play-off) mix, and if we want to stay in the mix, we have to collect points and stop other teams collecting points.”
READ MORE: Opinion: The England team Steve Borthwick should pick against France
The article Marcus Smith: Rob Baxter supports Steve Borthwick’s call to release fly-half but wishes it wasn’t against Exeter appeared first on Planetrugby.com.