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Tuesday Jan 30, 2024

Marcus Smith's Six Nations in jeopardy after scan returns with bad news

With England’s first Six Nations match against Italy just over three days away, Steve Borthwick will have been hoping for an uneventful week leading up to the occasion. Unfortunately for the England head coach, a Marcus Smith shaped spanner has been thrown straight in the works.

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Gingerly walking out of training in Girona yesterday, Smith was sent for a scan on a potential leg injury after pulling up in a jogging exercise. The results of the scan have now been released, and it isn’t looking good for the playmaker.

England skills coach, Kevin Sinfield, said: “He won’t make this weekend, sadly, it is a calf injury. We got the scan report through but we are waiting to understand exactly what that means for us moving forward. He’s not fit for this weekend.

“The boys have had two days off, recovery, and Marcus being the bundle of energy that he is, was doing his thing. Unfortunately, these things happen. We are gutted for him because he’s been amazing to work with and we hope it will not be too long.

“He’s a big loss. He’s an outstanding guy who I have absolutely loved working with and I have got a really good connection with. But what that does is provide opportunities for others. We have said it since I have been working with England that we are blessed with the tens that we have got.”

When questioned on the extent of the injury, Sinfield added that it “would be great” if they could keep the Harlequins playmaker around the squad, but that would all depend on the length of his expected recovery time.

“I am not sure on the logistics, I think some of it will depend on what the second opinion says. It would be great if we could keep him with us. I think with all our nines and tens, the more time they get to spend together the more those friendships and relationships continue to build.

“That’s really important off the field as it is on the field. It would be great if he stays. I think he likes the ice cream here as well.

“We have got a couple of guys who can play ten aside from what we have in Fin and George. Henry Slade has done it before, George Furbank has done it before and done a great job — he has done it this year for Northampton. We have got a couple of guys in there already who can, certainly in the short term, cover us.”

England have been hit with a series of injuries prior to the tournament, with Ollie Lawrence, Luke Cowan-Dickie, George Martin, Manu Tuilagi, Nick Isiekwe and Oscar Beard all already out of the match in Rome, and Tom Curry, Jack van Poortvliet and Bevan Rodd all ruled out for the duration of the tournament.

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If Marcus Smith is indeed ruled out for a large period of time, then it will likely give an extended opportunity to the likes of young fly half, Fin Smith, to prove his own worth in the England side.

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