Six Nations: Danny Care urges England to start ‘exceptional’ Marcus Smith in France clash

Immediate return: England have quickly recalled Marcus Smith ahead of visit of France in the Six Nations  (Action Images via Reuters)
Immediate return: England have quickly recalled Marcus Smith ahead of visit of France in the Six Nations (Action Images via Reuters)

Danny Care has urged England to up the tempo and install Marcus Smith at fly-half to topple France.

England will host Les Bleus in the Six Nations on Saturday, with boss Steve Borthwick facing an inside-back selection conundrum.

Smith’s virtuoso performance drove Harlequins to thrash Exeter 40-5 at Twickenham on Saturday, for their first win in six Premiership matches.

Borthwick drafted Smith straight back into his 36-man England squad on Sunday night, alongside captain Owen Farrell and fit-again George Ford as the other fly-half options.

New boss Borthwick has insisted he will tailor selection to specific opponents, and Harlequins scrum-half Care believes high-octane attacking talent Smith boasts the best skillset to open up France.

“I’d be picking a team that would be playing quickly, and would play aggressive rugby against France,” said Care. “I think you’ve got to go and attack the French team, I don’t think you sit back and kick everything. If I was the coach, Marcus Smith would be in my England team.”

Smith had a hand in everything good about a great Harlequins performance on Saturday, as Tabai Matson’s men ran in six tries against the struggling Chiefs.

Farrell, Ollie Lawrence and Henry Slade have started England’s last two Six Nations clashes, for victories over Italy and Wales. Lawrence and Slade offer impressive balance in the centres, leaving the odds potentially long on Smith and Farrell being restored as the 10-12 axis.

Quins’ 87-cap veteran half-back Care sympathises with clubmate Smith’s England situation, with Farrell the clear squad talisman as captain and leader.

“Marcus is an unbelievable player, and allied to his magic moments his tactical display against Exeter was exceptional,” said Care. “He’s in a tough position, the captain of the England team is in the 10 position as well.

“He did his special things, but he also handled the basics incredibly well. Hopefully you get to see that in the England 10 shirt soon, but we’ll see.

“If he keeps performing like that he can’t be ignored for that long. But I can completely understand what Steve has tried to do in the time he’s had, and that’s to get the basics incredibly well, and pick a team he knows.

“He knows Owen inside out, and Owen’s a brilliant player, so it’s hard not to pick Owen and if anyone’s been in an environment when he’s been around, it’s hard not to pick him because he’s that much of a leader and he drives everything.

“I still think the two can work in tandem, you can get the best performance out of the 10 shirt with one of them starting and the other coming off the bench.”