England boss Eddie Jones must trust Marcus Smith in Tonga test – Jason Robinson


If he is fit enough to be a replacement he is fit enough to play so let’s see him. This is the ideal game for Smith to be showcasing the skills that took Harlequins to the title last season and seeing how they translate to Test rugby. There is no point in him wasting his time twiddling his thumbs.

England need a spark and Smith can provide it to take their game on from such a poor Six Nations. It is what the country is crying out for.

If George Furbank does start at No 10 as has been suggested, a first half substitution would be rough on him but this is – and always has been – the game in which to see Smith at stand-off.

No disrespect to Tonga ahead of what will be a huge occasion for them but this is a game England should win easily.

With that in mind, I was pretty underwhelmed when I saw the side Eddie Jones intended to put out there with Farrell initially named at stand-off.

This is the game to learn about players who could reinvigorate England.

I wanted to see Alex Dombrandt given a start at No 8 not sitting next to Smith on the bench. He is another who has been ripping up trees for Quins.

While it is a strong England team that will take the field, I feel a real opportunity has been missed.

The exception is in the back three where the Twickenham crowd will get to see Adam Radwan and Freddie Steward.

If playing in front of a Twickenham full house is an exciting prospect for them, then watching these two talents in the flesh is an equally exciting one for the 82,000 at the stadium.

Radwan has been compared in some quarters to me and he has got some great footwork. The one difference is he is probably quicker!

When you throw in Jonny May as well this must be one of the speediest back three units in the world. Those boys can fly.

My hope is that England allow them to let their hair down and that their afternoon is not just spent chasing kicks. If it is the same game plan as for the Six Nations they might as well sit in the stands.

Two years out from the World Cup, England need a change in mindset and this is the ideal game to test drive it.

The Tongans love a big hit but the strength of their game is also a weakness. Defenders rushing out of the line to smash people create gaps for the attacking side if they use the ball properly.

There will be space out there against Tonga that England would not ordinarily enjoy in a Test match and they have the chance to exploit that.

So come on Eddie, let’s see Smith given a decent chance to pull the strings and show a wider world what the fuss is all about.



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