According to his supporters, Marcus Smith is unlike any fly-half England has produced in a generation.
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Perhaps it’s because his backstory is unique to any other.
It includes a greater emphasis on South Asia’s skills than on scores. He also has permission to try his hand on England’s south coast.
Smith will be leading England from 10 against Australia for the first time in a full test. This could be the beginning of a new era for the team.
This is the history.
“I only remember the reaction at the touchlines.”
Smith was taught by Paul Stephens, one of Smith’s first coaches. He was also a member of Centaurs’ under-eights soccer team in Singapore.
Stephens said that Stephens could accomplish things at that age that no other children can.
He could do sixpence turns with his hand-eye coordination. Even if the goosestep arrived later, he always had a sidestep!
“But he could also imagine doing things that other children wouldn’t consider.”
One prime example was found in Melbourne a few years later. Smith was a player at the under-12 level and was touring Australia.
Stephens recalled that Marcus was playing at flyhalf and set up a crossfield ball for his younger brother Luc [who plays for third-tier Rosslyn Park] in order to score.
“This kind of thing is very commonplace today. It wasn’t ten years ago. It certainly wasn’t for the under-12s. I only remember the reaction of the touchlines.
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“You must come and see this.”
Marcus, 11, was on a family vacation back to the UK when he attended a rugby camp at Brighton College. This top private school is near his father’s home.
Shortly thereafter, Nick Buoy, school’s director for rugby, received a call from his phone.
Buoy said that a friend was running the course. “He said, “Nick, I think that you should come and take a look at it.”
Buoy’s friend was finished with his remarks. Buoy could immediately see the excitement as soon as he arrived at the touchline.
He remembered that Marcus ran past me, and I said: ‘That’s he, isn’t it?
“His movements were so fluid, it was like he had an aura around him. He was also an organizer of people around him. This was quite unusual for an 11-year old.
Buoy introduced him to the Smith family, and Marcus was awarded a sports scholarship to the school just a few years later.
Buoy stated that Marcus stood out because he could quickly see a problem and then solve it – no matter what sport.
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Big breakfasts, big names
Calum Waters was also a student at Brighton College, but he was three years ahead of Smith. He would watch Smith hustle on the common area pool table beating out infuriated sixth-formers or dribbling past his peers at the football pitch.
Only as Harlequins youth prospects, they played rugby together only once – Smith at 10 and Waters at 9.
Waters stated, “He is a very thoughtful guy to have as team-mate.” Waters said that Waters is very switched-on and a good listener.
“He brings people along. He not only praises the good things but also takes up things you don’t do well.
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Smith’s devotion to the sport was unquestionable. Smith was able to cook for himself in a professional setting.