Harlequins’ Marcus Smith was today hailed as Premiership's best fly-half as he was named Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Month for February 2021.
Smith was in irresistible form in February as Harlequins won three out of four matches and roared into the Gallagher Premiership Rugby play-off picture, earning accolades from BT Sport pundit and Gallagher ambassador Ugo Monye.
“Marcus has had an unbelievable season, I don’t think there’s a better fly-half in the country at the moment,” said Monye, who spent more than a decade at Harlequins.
“He’s showing incredible maturity, and his ability to be able to create tries for himself and others has been excellent. Then there’s his goal kicking, defence – he’s taken his whole game to another level this year.
“He’s been a huge part of Harlequins winning run, you look at the way they like to play. They’re all built to run with the ball in hand, and that’s exactly the type of attacking rugby that Marcus Smith plays.
“When you’ve got a No.10 who is playing as well as he is, it drives the standards of everyone else and that’s when you see the kind of results and upturn of fortunes that we have seen with Quins over the last five or six weeks. “
Although Covid-19 restrictions prevented a physical presentation of his award, Harlequins fan and chief financial officer for Gallagher in the UK, Charlie Scott, said: “Delighted to see Marcus voted player of the month in the Gallagher Premiership. He’s a huge young talent at the club, giving his all in every match and often in a game-changing way. With his superb control, ability to slice clean through the opponent’s defence and countless conversions and penalty kicks, Marcus has played a big part in Quins’ recent rise up the table, making him a very worthy winner.
“As a business, we’re really looking forward to being able to get back into stadiums to show our support locally for each of the Premiership Rugby clubs. And, as a Quins supporter, I’m very much looking forward to returning with my family to the fervent fan community and lively camaraderie of The Stoop.”
Monye has seen Quins turn a corner, with a focus on youth, and he believes Smith is revelling in this, adding: “We’ve seen a big change of style of rugby at Quins. The players are playing with a bit more freedom and are allowed to express themselves a bit more.
“Marcus, alongside a lot of other young talented players within that club, has been able to drive that, and he’s been integral to everything that they’ve been about with his attitude and his effervescent nature of wanting to play rugby. They get excited with the ball in their hands, and they’ve scored some remarkable tries over a number of weeks. It’s not just exciting rugby to watch, it’s also really effective as well.”
Monye also believes it is only a matter of time before Smith’s club form translates into a place on the Test scene, saying: “He has to be considered internationally soon. He wants to become the best player in the world, and I’d love to see him get a shot on the international stage.”
Smith – as part of his prize for being named Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Month – has the opportunity to donate a shirt signed by the whole Harlequins squad and framed by Gallagher to a charity of his choice to help them raise funds for their cause.
Smith was judged by a panel of experts as the player who made the biggest impact in Gallagher Premiership Rugby in February 2021.
He was involved in a three-way battle to win the award eventually beating Exeter Chiefs’ No 8 Sam Simmonds and Northampton Saints Dave Ribbans to the title.
Smith was voted for by a panel of media professionals based on his performances in February, alongside a public poll on the Premiership Rugby app, which drew more than 1,900 votes. The judges were: Nick Mullins (BT Sport), Alastair Eykyn (BT Sport), Mick Cleary (The Daily Telegraph), Sarah Mockford (Rugby World), Jonny Fordham (The Sun), Jill Douglas (Broadcaster), Craig Swayne (Fab Rugby), Chris Jones (BBC 5 Live), David Rogers (Getty Images) and Tom Hamilton (ESPN). The panel was chaired by Paul Morgan, Premiership Rugby's Communications Director.
Winners in the 2020-21 season
February - Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
January - Piers O'Connor (Bristol Bears)
December – Alfie Barbeary (Wasps)
November – Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
Winners in the 2019-20 season
August – Jack Willis (Wasps)
May– Paul Hill and Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)*
April - Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs) *
March – Jamal Ford-Robinson (Gloucester Rugby)*
February – Charles Piutau (Bristol Bears)
January – Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)
December - Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby)
November – Tom O’Flaherty (Exeter Chiefs)
* Gallagher ran public polls while play was suspended to nominate a ‘Community Player of the Month’ in recognition of inspiring off-pitch performances made by players during lockdown to support their local communities and boost the morale of the wider rugby community.
Winners in the 2018-19 season
April – Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors)
March – Santiago Cordero (Exeter Chiefs)
February – Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints)
December – Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints)
November – Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)
October – Alex Goode (Saracens)
September – Danny Cipriani (Gloucester Rugby)
Winners in the 2017-18 season
April – Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons)
March – Joe Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
February – Jack Willis (Wasps)
December – Josh Adams (Worcester Warriors)
November – Ruan Ackermann (Gloucester Rugby)
October – Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)
September – Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Winners in the 2016-17 season
April – Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby)
March – Christian Wade (Wasps)
February – James Short (Exeter Chiefs)
December – Tom Varndell (Bristol Rugby)
November – Freddie Burns (Leicester Tigers)
October – Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
September – Jimmy Gopperth (Wasps)
Winners in the 2015-16 season
October – Nick Evans (Harlequins)
November – Nathan Hughes (Wasps)
December – Maro Itoje (Saracens)
January – Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
February – George Smith (Wasps)
March – Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors)
April – Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints)
Winners in the 2014-15 season
September – Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
October – Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby)
November – Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
December – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
January – Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
February – Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
March – Elliot Daly (Wasps)
April – Joe Simpson (Wasps)
Winners in the 2013-14 season
September – Jacques Burger (Saracens)
October – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
November - George Ford (Bath Rugby)
December – Nick Easter (Harlequins)
January – Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
February – Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
March – Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
April – Chris Ashton (Saracens)
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