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Dylan Hartley hopes Eddie Jones will hand Marcus Smith the number 10 shirt for England’s autumn testing

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Let Marcus fly! Dylan Hartley urges Eddie Jones to unleash Smith at No. 10 for England’s fall testing campaign – and also backs Owen Farrell to survive any backline overhaul

  • Dylan Hartley is adamant that Marcus Smith should be England’s foremost playmaker
  • With a view to the next World Cup, Hartley wants Smith to have the number 10 shirt
  • Smith made his England debut in the summer and was a late call-up for the Lions
  • Hartley has also backed Owen Farrell to survive every backline overhaul











Dylan Hartley hopes Eddie Jones will hand Marcus Smith the number 10 shirt for England’s fall testing campaign, partnering with Captain Owen Farrell to form a revamped creative hub.

Former skipper Hartley has backed Farrell, his successor, to survive any revision of the back-line for matches against Tonga, Australia and South Africa at Twickenham next month.

But Hartley is adamant that Smith should be selected as the primary playmaker, with a view to the next World Cup in 2023.

Dylan Hartley hopes Eddie Jones will hand Marcus Smith the No 10 shirt for the fall testing

The Harlequins sensation marked his return to club action with a superb performance to inspire his side to recover from a 21-0 deficit and beat Bristol 52-24 in the Stoop last Friday.

It was a vivid reminder of the precocious talent with which the 22-year-old made his England debut in the summer, before later joining the Lions.

Asked if Smith’s electrical exploits could force Jones’ hand, Hartley said, “Yes. Give Marcus a chance. It’s a bold statement of what this England team will be about if given a chance. It’s not fanfare, it’s justified.

Hartley is adamant that Smith should be selected as the primary playmaker, with one eye on 2023

Hartley is adamant that Smith should be selected as the primary playmaker, with one eye on 2023

Smith marked his return to action with Harlequins with a superb performance against Bristol

Smith marked his return to action with Harlequins with a superb performance against Bristol

‘Is he the future in that flying half-shirt? He will have to endure some pain and lessons in his international career. We can’t just expect him to go out, score a hat-trick and kick all the points. There will be things where we’ll all say, “Oh, he hasn’t mastered the game very well.” He’s still a young boy, but the sooner we do that, the better it will be for 2023. That’s got to start.

‘Eddie must be thinking, ‘Who’s my fly-half for that World Cup?’ It would be very brutal to put Marcus in there. It would be a vote of confidence and a show for everyone – the rugby world, us, whoever is watching, the team – of how they want to move this team forward. I’d like to see it.

“He does all the silky, flashy stuff that captures the Instagram rolls and YouTube highlights, but his base is also very strong. He is not afraid. He is physical. He makes his tackles. There are many fly halves that throw the ball around, who have flair, but shy away from physicality. Not him.’

The talented Smith made his England debut in July, before later joining the Lions

The talented Smith made his England debut in July, before later joining the Lions

Taking Smith into a full-strength team in England will come at the cost of a big name from the rear. According to Hartley, the victim will have to be George Ford as he insists Farrell, 30, should continue as captain.

“It doesn’t mean Owen isn’t on the team,” he added. “Owen can be pushed to 12. Manu Tuilagi is back – 13 for Manu.

“When we talk about attacks, do we want two distributors? I think England looked their best when we had George and Owen on the pitch. Two sides of the attack, two distributors. But if Manu goes to 13, what happens to Henry Slade?

Eddie Jones will be forced to leave out a big name in the back row if he chooses Smith

Eddie Jones will be forced to leave out a big name in the back row if he chooses Smith

“I don’t think Owen is being overlooked. He does the basics really well and has credit in the bank with Eddie. His work is not unseen by Eddie, it is unseen by us. Just because Marcus plays so well doesn’t mean Owen’s gone. I’d love to see him play with Marcus.

“Everyone wants to match Owen’s success. He’s a Test century cap, he’s won countless amounts of silverware, does the basics really well, but no one sees or wants to imitate what goes into getting that success. He is your consummate professional.

“Everyone has a lifespan and he is not at the end of his lifespan. He’s only getting better, has been ridden quite well. Shiny things don’t motivate him, success does. People don’t see that. He loves rugby, he’s a competitor, one of the best on the team sheet in his day, and when he’s not, he’s still a great competitor and player. There’s no reason to change Owen Farrell.”

Amazon Prime Video will exclusively broadcast 17 Autumn Nations Series matches live later this month and next month.

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