Marcus Smith has vowed to make the most of a bolt-from-the-blue call up to the Lions squad to complete a fairytale month for the Harlequins fly-half.
The day was already going swimmingly for the 22-year-old as he earned his second cap in Saturday’s 70-14 rout of Canada at Twickenham. He landed all nine of his conversions and once again looked totally at home in the white shirt of England.
But his day was about to get better as it was confirmed, post-match, that Warren Gatland had called him up as emergency cover for Scot Finn Russell, who has an Achilles injury.
It means that instead of going to Wembley for England’s Euro 2020 final against Italy, he will be heading off to South Africa to mix it with the very best players from the British Isles.
Just a couple of weeks after landing the Premiership title with Quins and making his debut for England, he finds himself in another pinch-yourself moment to complete a meteoric elevation.
“I’m lost for words really. I can’t believe what’s going on,” Smith said immediately after Saturday’s Test match.
“For me, it’s a dream come true obviously. It was always my dream to represent the Lions. I didn’t expect it to come this soon.
“I’m going to go out there, learn as much as I can off some of the best players in the world, try and be myself and we’ll see what happens.”
Smith added: “When I got pulled down the tunnel, I thought I was in trouble, but I was given the good news and I didn’t really know what to say. I was shaking. I had to ask if they were having me on or something. I still don’t really know what to say.
“I had a ticket for the football, which would have been great, but hopefully when I land [in South Africa] it will be great news [about the result].
“Eddie [Jones, the England boss] said go out there and enjoy it, take it all in, learn as much as you can and come back a better player. I’ll give it my best shot.
“I’m massively overwhelmed. I need to take it all in because it’s been a whirlwind few weeks. I’m massively delighted. I’ve heard good things about South Africa and I’m buzzing to get out there and see what it’s got to offer. If I get an opportunity, I’ll be very excited.
“My team-mates were very supportive when I was doing my Channel 4 interview after the game and to have their support is the biggest respect you can get. Those guys seem really happy for me.”
Smith continued: “I’m massively delighted with the win today. To play for England the second time was special and it’s a day I’ll never forget. I’ve enjoyed every minute in camp. I’ve enjoyed training and pushing each other in the gym. I’ve enjoyed everything about it.
“To finish with this performance today was special. It’s a special group of boys.
“But I still can’t believe what’s going on. It’s all been a blur really. I’ve thrown myself at every single thing that’s come at me.
“I was happy with my performance today. I’ve got a lot to work on. I threw a few loose passes today and I have to work on that basic stuff but the boys were brilliant again.”