Marcus Smith tipped to force his way back into England fold after instant response to being dropped


Tabai Matson has tipped Marcus Smith to force his way back into England’s match squad to face France after a Harlequins masterclass.

Smith ran the show from first to last as Quins thrashed Exeter 40-5 at Twickenham, to jump to fifth in the Gallagher Premiership.

The livewire fly-half was released from England’s three-day training camp this week, to feature for Quins, while Test boss Steve Borthwick retained Owen Farrell and George Ford.

England will reconvene on Sunday night with Smith heading back to the Bagshot base, and Quins head coach Matson is tipping the 24-year-old to feature against France next weekend.

“Tonight we saw a masterclass in finding space,” said Matson. “Marcus did exactly what Steve Borthwick asked of him. When I spoke to Steve on Sunday, he said he wanted Marcus to come back, boss the game and get some minutes.

“Ultimately his success at international level has been underpinned by what he has done here. Our attack system’s nearly built around him and for him to slot back in and find space, whether it be run, kick or pass, just shows you what a rare talent he is.

“He was sharp, so he’s going to make selection really difficult tomorrow night for Steve and the England coaches. Steve’s really clear on the way England want to win different Test matches.

“Will he be an option this week? Only Steve knows that but tonight he’s put his best foot forward and shown there’s another way. He showed his sharpness, you want to see a player come back and be sharp and he did that, so he’ll make it really difficult.

“I’m sure Steve’s got a plan for him and I think he’s going to be in the mix; I don’t know where, but he can do no more.”

Harlequins ended their five-match losing streak in style at a rowdy Twickenham with Joe Marchant crossing twice plus Cadan Murley, Josh Bassett, Sam Riley and Stephan Lewies also claiming scores.

Jack Innard offered Exeter’s sole reply in a chastening day for the Chiefs but a night to remember for Quins.

Borthwick has moved away from the Smith-Farrell midfield axis that Eddie Jones was so fixated on finding a way to work fluidly at Test level. Captain Farrell, Bath’s Ollie Lawrence and Exeter playmaker Henry Slade have started the last two Tests in midfield, but Matson is confident in Smith’s ability to re-enter the argument in the week ahead.

“What you saw out there is a guy who can find space, run, pass or kick; it’s very hard to do what he did tonight,” said Matson. “He’s pretty emotional; he’s passionate and he’s demonstrative when he does something well, and that’s him at his best.”