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Nick Evans: 'Marcus Smith is ready to play for England'

Nick Evans: 'Marcus Smith is ready to play for England'
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The uncapped 22-year-old has impressed for Harlequins this season.

Former New Zealand fly-half Nick Evans believes Harlequins playmaker Marcus Smith is "definitely" ready to make his England debut.

Smith has proved integral to Quins' Gallagher Premiership play-off push, with the 22-year-old closing in on 250 league points this term.

Quins currently hold the fourth and final play-off spot with three regular-season games left.

And Smith's sustained excellence must give him an outstanding chance of featuring when England tackle the USA and Canada at Twickenham this summer.

Leicester's vastly-experienced international fly-half George Ford will also be available for those games after missing out on British and Irish Lions selection, yet there are many who feel that England boss Eddie Jones should hand Smith an opportunity.

Asked if Smith was ready for England, Quins attack coach Evans said: "Yes, definitely.

"The way he has performed, especially the last month-and-a-half, he has been a big part of our success.

"You can see how much he has grown and where he is aiming to be. His aspirations are to play for his country. He's desperate.

"I think he is performing to the level he needs to be, and I feel he just needs to be given the opportunity now. A lot of people feel the same.

"What has impressed me is he hasn't got too far ahead of himself.

"I think maybe the last couple of years he has focused on England, but (recently) he has focused on us and he has made sure his performances for us have been right on the money.

"That's all you can do, put yourself in the window so many times. Hopefully, he has done enough, and I would certainly back him to do that."

George Ford in action for Leicester
George Ford in action for Leicester (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Ford and Smith's head to head at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday was watched by Jones, with Tigers claiming a 35-29 victory.

Ford, along with two-try England prop Ellis Genge, enjoyed a dominant first-half display, but Smith made a considerable impact as Quins fought their way back into the contest and ended up claiming two bonus points.

"I thought when we gave Marcus the kind of ball that he likes and the service that he enjoys, he looked really dangerous and he got us round the park," Evans added.

"It was a good challenge for him because we haven't actually played in wet conditions for a long time.

"It was a good learning experience for Marcus, especially when they were down to 13 (players), how he managed the game there.

"He has been having an absolutely unbelievable period of form, and he is learning every day."

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