Daily Mail

Fly-half has X-factor to delight fans, says Watson


MARCUS SMITH has been backed to light up Twickenham when he pulls on England’s No 10 jersey against France today.

The mercurial fly-half has been given licence to thrill after Steve Borthwick made the shock move to drop Owen Farrell from the starting XV.

England have outlined their plan to up the tempo and Smith’s skillset will be central to the change in approach. Team-mate Anthony Watson said: ‘Marcus has that X-factor, doesn’t he, where he can spark a game into life. He can create something from nothing. That’s what people tune in to watch. ‘Fans want to see that type of thing and Marcus does that regularly. He’s not a one-trick pony. He can find a little grubber in behind for himself, chips, all that type of stuff. Equally he can beat people one on one. It’s his range of ability to create stuff that makes him special.’ England’s tactical approach has been kick-heavy in Borthwick’s first three games as head coach. The game plan has been branded boring in some quarters but Watson insisted he wants to get the crowd on its feet. ‘We’re committed to trying to win, we’re not playing a conservati­ve game and trying to feel our way into it because that’s pointless,’ said Watson. ‘Steve talked in one of his first press conference­s about wanting to inspire the nation. We definitely want to do that by playing a winning brand of rugby but also one that entertains.’ In Farrell’s absence, prop Ellis Genge will captain the team for the first time.

Assistant coach Richard Cockerill, who handed Genge his senior debut for Leicester in 2016, backed the forward to lead by example.

He said: ‘He’s got a great physical attitude towards the game but he’s an intelligen­t player and he’s learnt over the years how to use that to his advantage.’

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