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Marcus Smith can seal England World Cup spot in France Six Nations clash – Jason Robinson | Rugby | Sport


Marcus Smith has a huge opportunity in the England No 10 shirt at Twickenham vs France. If this goes well, that jersey could be his for the World Cup. Smith looked to be heading out of the back door under Steve Borthwick but all of a sudden here he is against the Six Nations champions with the keys to the castle.

Borthwick has talked about selecting match by match depending on the game plan he wants but if Smith can put on a show and lead England to what would be a fantastic victory he will suddenly become a very hard man to dislodge. The backline set-up is one he will be familiar with.

He has a power runner next to him in Ollie Lawrence, which is the system he is used to at Harlequins, and he will have sole control of how England attack. So let’s see him do what he does for Quins and lead the French a merry defensive dance.

He is such a different type of No 10 to Owen Farrell. He likes to run with the ball and he can carve people up so I hope he is given the freedom to try to do that by Borthwick. France are a very good side – better than they have shown so far in this Six Nations.

But he has the feet and the vision to cause them trouble and take England onto another level from what we have seen so far in the championship. France have a stand-off in Romain Ntamack who can ask questions of any defence and now England have one too in Smith. That is a very exciting match-up.

Make no mistake England will need to widen their horizons. For all the improvement in the pack, route one alone isn’t going to cut the mustard against opponents of this quality and size. This is a very significant test for Borthwick’s England and a game I cannot wait to see.

With no Farrell in the starting line-up – a relegation he will take personally – it will be Ellis Genge who leads England out in front of 82,000 people at Twickenham. What a proud moment that will be for him and what a positive one for English rugby.

Genge doesn’t look like a typical England player, he doesn’t sound like one and sometimes he doesn’t act like one but if rugby union wants to show itself as a game for everyone his appointment is a refreshing one. He is a council estate kid who has smashed the glass ceiling.

He leads from the front, he’s passionate and he has enjoyed a strong championship so far. Hopefully he will have another big game here. With Genge leading from the front and Smith pulling the strings at the back, I think England can sneak this.

Jason Robinson was speaking in association with Vodafone Business.

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