Marcus Smith says he is determined to ‘keep getting better’ after wowing a full house at Twickenham as a second half sub against Tonga.
The Harlequins fly-half received a huge cheer from the 82,000 crowd when he came on after 53 minutes on Saturday – the first capacity crowd at rugby’s headquarters since March 2020.
They have taken him to their hearts instantly following his debut in the summer international series against USA and Canada and he crowned another fine cameo with a scintillating try.
The Manila-born play-maker profited from a lightning break from half-way from Henry Slade which carved open the visitors’ defence, but still had to show a clean pair of heels to scamper to the tryline after receiving his team-mates’ pass.
He showed a capacity for coping with the rough stuff to. Tonga’s Viliami Fine was red carded for throwing a shoulder into Smith’s face as he lay on the ground.
Smith has taken to the international arena with incredible ease. And, of course, he has looked so confident and assured that he was drafted in to the Lions tour of South Africa at the last minute.
Having helped Quins to the Premiership title last season, this has been a superb year for the 22-year-old, who says he just wants to focus on staying – feet firmly on the ground – on that upward trajectory.
“Ultimately, rugby’s a team game and my goal this week was to be a good finisher,” Smith said after the 69-3 victory. “But credit has to go to those who started the game and made a fast start. They were brilliant.
“This is only the start of the journey. It was nice to score 69 points at home, however we’ve got loads to work on with a massively exciting squad. All of us are desperate to keep getting better and I’m massively excited to be a part of it.”
Smith added: “It was a special day. It was the start of a new journey for us. As a squad there are a lot of new faces as well as old ones.
“To play in front of a sell-out crowd was special and to have all our friends and family there made it extra special.
“For us as finishers, we were told at half time to bring energy, bring an impact. That’s our job. So all of us tried to do that when we came on and I really enjoyed my run onto the field.”
England boss Eddie Jones had been thinking about starting Smith from the start on Saturday but a leg injury earlier in the week meant it was touch and go whether he would participate at all.
In the event, he recovered sufficiently to at least make the bench, and made another huge impression in an England jersey.
“My leg felt really good when I came on,” he said. “The medical team here guided me throughout the week and gave me the go-ahead to train on Friday and play on Saturday, so I came out, no-holds-barred, and gave it my best.”