Marcus Smith called up to England rugby squad
By Simon Ormiston
Last Updated: 12/08/17 1:25pm
When Eddie Jones took over as England head coach in 2016 he said he was "starting afresh" with an opportunity for all players to earn their way into his squad but few would have predicted that message extended to schoolboys too.
Marcus Smith, 18, was called up to the 2017 summer training camp despite having not played a single game of senior rugby and is still waiting on his A-Level results. So who is he and can he become a star of the future?
It all began at another rugby summer camp for kids when 11-year-old Smith was spotted by Brighton College director of rugby Nick Buoy.
"The way he moved and carried himself, even then, meant he already had an aura about him," says Buoy. "He was a natural who could control the environment around him."
Smith was living in Singapore at the time but Buoy contacted his parents and went about convincing them to return to the UK.
He was soon on Harlequins' radar and despite missing out on a trial for his region through injury, Buoy picked up the phone again to make sure the selectors gave him another chance.
Smith went on to represent England at U16 and captained the U18s before playing for the U20s earlier this year. In the past, he has played scrum-half and inside centre for his school but settled into fly-half, which is where he was first spotted by Eddie Jones.
Back in 2015, Jones was Japan head coach and their Rugby World Cup training base was at Brighton College. Jones saw Smith play for the school's first XV and has been keeping tabs on him ever since.
In May 2017 Jones was back at the school, this time with England, and asked Smith to take part in the training sessions with captain Dylan Hartley and George Ford. Ford took some time out to share his experience with Smith and the two have become friends on Twitter.
Great to meet you Marcus, hell of a talent, keep working hard mate !— George Ford (@George_Fordy) May 19, 2016
Smith has now signed a professional contract with Harlequins and Sky sources understand former fly-half Nick Evans will mentor him as he prepares for the next stage of his career.
Jonny Wilkinson was 18 years and 314 days old when he was selected as a replacement for England against Ireland in 1998. Smith has been involved in some coaching classes with the World Cup winner and will hope to transfer that knowledge on to the pitch for Harlequins this season and one day, possibly, for England.