Rugby’s new Jonny Wilkinson Marcus Smith backed to handle the England spotlight

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Eddie Jones believes Marcus Smith can handle the Twickenham promotional train.

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And he dumped George Ford, Jamie George, and the Vunipola brothers for trying to join the twice-capped Golden Boy on the bus to the World Cup.

Marcus Smith was also handed the Dream Lions call-up this summer, now set to star at Twickenham next month

Jones handed over the keys to the Red Rose motorcycle to 22-year-old Smith and will make his debut in the number 10 shirt against Tonga, Australia and South Africa next month.


And the angry Australian boss believes the Premiership winner and Lions tourist can handle the coming summer, with the likes of Johnny Wilkinson, current captain Owen Farrell and Ford following in the footsteps.

Jones said: “It’s always a big test for the players – how they handle criticism or praise and keep perspective.

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“The best players in the world will keep perspective, because they are never as good as people say they are never as bad as people say they are.

“It’s a test for a young player to come.

“We don’t pick Marcus if we don’t think he can handle it. We think he can.”

“But we have to make sure that as a coaching staff we guide them and give them advice when needed.

“And I’m sure he has his own advisory committee outside the team which will be important to him.

“So he has the opportunity to add his own flavor and strength to the team.

“The role of 10 is that of the bus driver and conductor.

“He has to create a route for the team, a place for the team to go and then get the team ready to play to that beat.

“It’s a combination of being a team player and being an individual player.”

Jones called up four uncapped players, including hooker Nick Dolly, winger Tommy Freeman, center Mark Atkinson and scrum-half Rafi Quirke, all set for Test debuts.

And speaking of ousting legends Billy, Mako, Ford and George, he said: “I think Gareth Southgate made a very pertinent comment – every time a head coach in England makes a selection, it seems that you have committed a crime.

“It is difficult to leave those senior players. They have been great players, they have been loyal and have done well for you.

“But the job of the head coach is to make decisions and the decision is that we need to move on to the World Cup selection process now and those guys can come back to it.

“I hope to see more of them so that they give me more headaches in the future. We have many players who have been through two World Cup campaigns.

“With the third World Cup campaign, my experience tells me that some players want to go to the World Cup, but they don’t really have the will to prepare to win the World Cup.”

England wonderkid Marcus Smith was called by boss Eddie Jones for international matches at Twickenham this autumn

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