Even if you’re not typically a rugby fan, you probably would have heard the name Marcus Smith behind bandied about on social media when carrying out your daily scrolling duties on your smartphone. It has indeed got to the point where England rugby fans can hardly contain their excitement which is why you may have inadvertently heard about the 23-year-old fly-half who is making tsunami-like waves on the international scene.
The excitement levels were, of course, cranked up again after Smith stole the show against Italy in the Six Nations tournament over the weekend of the 12-13th of February. It was such a convincing display that the official Six Nations odds now price Eddie Jones’ men at just 13/8 to go all the way thanks to their new talisman. With this in mind, you can understand why the conversation around Smith is going viral but is it entirely justified?
The short answer is yes, it is thoroughly justified. The longer explanation centers around the 23-year-old’s ability to completely dictate a game by relying on his attacking attributes. Smith is, after all, only 5 ft 7 which makes him quicker than most people on the pitch. In essence, being so fleet of foot is naturally an advantage given that rugby usually favours heavier players which means that the England fly-half can easily ride most tackles.
Indeed, many of the best centers in the world are becoming accustomed to seeing Smith scamper away after losing him in the tackle. Breaking the line like this obviously gives England the chance to get up the field and make for the try line but it is Smith’s decision-making once he has done this that truly sets him apart from other players of a similar age in his position.
In some instances, players are able to gain ground but their final product cancels out any yards made. This isn’t the case with Smith as his offloads are timed to sheer perfection which invariably lets a teammate cross the whitewash further up the pitch. Not all flyhalves are as selfless and battle to see the pass when green grass opens up in front of them but you can see that Smith is already weighing up his options once he sidesteps the opposition.
Players who have these traits don’t come along all the time and for Eddie Jones and England, a creative fly-half has been the missing piece of the puzzle for a few years. It goes without saying but Smith’s current performances with ball in hand will have the nation dreaming about the upcoming 2023 World Cup in France.
On top of that, an added bonus for England is that Smith’s kicking is as exceptional as his passing so realistically speaking, the Philippines-born player does seem to have all the skills to be the all-round package that Jones has been in search of after losing to South Africa during the 2019 World Cup final in Yokohama.
Indeed, the 23-year-old’s emergence on the international stage comes at the perfect time for England with the World Cup only a year away. With this in mind, you can understand why the England fans will tell you about Marcus Smith whether you asked them to or not.