Former All Black Sonny Bill Williams has thrown his support behind England flyhalf Marcus Smith saying ‘he’s the guy’ you want with the ball in his hands.
England’s 10-12 partnership with Smith and Owen Farrell has sparked debate again after Steve Borthwick’s side lost to Scotland 29-23 in the opening game of the Guinness Six Nations.
A pivotal moment in the Test came with England leading 20-19 and in position hot on attack inside Scotland’s 22. With Smith identifying a chance, Farrell switched play back to the short side to give the No 10 the ball.
Smith ended up with a two-on-two and took the outside of his defender, looking to get the second man interested but was shadowed over the sideline by a handy defensive play by Sione Tuipulotu.
Prominent Twitter user AP Rugby offered a critique of the situation saying ‘there was nothing on’ and that Smith is guilty of overplaying his hand at times.
“Marcus Smith had some really nice touches yesterday but tends to overplay his hand a bit. What works at club level doesn’t always come off at Test level,” he wrote.
“He’s calling for the ball here and Farrell obliges, but there’s nothing on.”
Ex-All Black Williams weighed in with his own view of the play and backed Smith to trust his instincts as he is the danger man deserving of the ball in those situations.
If Smith had gone inside his man with a left foot step he may scored with a prop required to cover.
“I have endured too many coaches with mindsets like yours (mistake means wrong option),” Williams wrote.
After nine Tests together, doubts persist over whether the partnership is clicking for England.
Many are of the belief that Owen Farrell is better suited as a flyhalf instead of as a No 12.
Former England flyhalf Andy Goode called for Steve Borthwick to ditch the 10-12 axis in his latest column for RugbyPass.
With Henry Slade returning to the squad changes could be made for England’s clash against Italy, with the versatile back covering at inside centre last year under Jones.
“Henry Arundell and Henry Slade both return to the squad following injuries,” reads an RFU statement this evening.
“Borthwick’s side have reconvened at the Honda England Rugby Performance Centre at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot as they prepare for Sunday’s game at Twickenham Stadium (3pm KO).”
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