SMITH GETS RECALL AS BATTLE FOR No 10 BEGINS
MARCUS SMITH was duly recalled by England last night, after inspiring Harlequins’ rout of Exeter — setting up an intriguing tussle for playmaker places against France on Saturday. For the first time under Steve Borthwick, Smith is in the same squad as both Owen Farrell and George Ford — the country’s long-established No 10s. Now the trio will all compete for that coveted shirt as the Six Nations title holders come to Twickenham.
Captain Farrell is the incumbent fly-half, but Ford’s recovery from an achilles injury has revived the prospect of the two friends once again joining forces in a 10-12 alliance. Smith’s return to Quins last week suggested he had slipped down the pecking order, but Borthwick insisted that he needed game time and a chance to make his case, as he did in a 40-5 demolition of the Chiefs. The stage is set for a fascinating selection debate, inside and outside the England camp this week.
Meanwhile, Manu Tuilagi was included in a 36-man training squad despite continuing to serve a ban and Leicester prop Joe Heyes has been recalled in place of Bath tighthead Will Stuart. Ben Curry has retained his place, while his twin brother Tom recovers from injury.