Rugby-England's Farrell backs Smith to be game-changer in autumn internationals

·2-min read
England v United States

(Reuters) - England flyhalf Marcus Smith can unlock any game by himself and will offer the team good balance in their autumn internationals, captain Owen Farrell said on Tuesday.

England head coach Eddie Jones left out Leicester flyhalf George Ford from his 34-man squad, seemingly clearing the way for summer debutant Smith to be given the chance to nail down the number 10 shirt.

Smith impressed in matches against the United States and Canada this year, prompting former England international Mike Brown to suggest that there could be a power struggle between the 22-year-old and Farrell moving forward.

But Farrell played down such talk, saying he was excited to work with Smith.

"He's obviously a massive talent. We worked together before. He's been to the camp before when he was a bit younger... It was good to get to know him a bit better over the summer," Farrell told reporters.

"He's a brilliant lad. He's a proper student of the game and that sounds cliched, but he wants to get better, understand the game more and loves chatting about rugby. So that made it easy for me.

"He seems confident because he's done the work... When he speaks, he speaks sense and that obviously helps your confidence and helps when it comes to playing in that position. He's obviously doing that really well at the minute.

"... He can unlock a game himself. He's obviously a brilliant balance to have."

Jones omitted big names from his initial training squad, despite impressive recent displays for Saracens by Mako and Billy Vunipola, Ben Earl and Jamie George.

"I've never thought someone cannot be dropped. You always have to work hard to be in this team and play these games. That's never going to be any different," Farrell added.

"We're excited about what's coming up. I'm only bothered about working hard for the team and making sure I'm doing my best. Whatever fits best for the group, I'll be happy with."

England finished fifth in last season's Six Nations and will be keen to respond.

They face Tonga on Nov. 6, before playing Australia on Nov. 13 and world champions South Africa on Nov. 20, with all matches at Twickenham Stadium in London.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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