Former England international Stuart Barnes has urged Eddie Jones to prefer Harlequins' Marcus Smith over Owen Farrell as they look to build towards the 2023 World Cup.
Smith made a phenomenal rise as he finished the 2020/21 season of Gallagher Premiership as the leading points scorer with 286 to his tally guiding his side Harlequins to a title victory.
His performances was rewarded with him making his England debut against the USA and also played against Canada during the summer series following which he was called up to the British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of South Africa.
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Even though he did not feature in any of the three Tests, he was impressive during the tour game against the Stormers where he kicked all the seven conversions.
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“Smith is the English Russell. Like the Scot he is not a maverick. He’s an intelligent player with razor-sharp instincts. He has been trained to see things as they unravel in front of him,” in his column for The Times.
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“The antithesis of Farrell, who has appeared the ultimate game-plan player throughout the Jones years. To play anyone but Smith this autumn would be to strip bare any talk of 2023 planning as empty rhetoric.
“Two years out from the World Cup, there is plenty of time for Farrell to reignite his case, back in the improving Premiership. But Smith has less time to grow into a test match 10. All the evidence indicates he has the skill, nerve, wit and kicking boots to pull England from the mess of their own making."
Meanwhile, Farrell took over England captaincy from Dylan Hartley and guided the red rose team to the final of the 2019 World Cup apart from a Six Nations title in 2020 apart from leading his side to an Autumn Nations triumph. However, his form this season has been under scrutiny especially during the 2021 Six Nations where England finished fifth and Barnes feels a change is imminent.
“Of course, there’s also the issue of a new captain. England need one. There is one in waiting and, after a summer break from the laptop, this is the first subject to be tackled.”