“I want Marcus to be Tom Brady, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant”

Marcus Smith’s performance at full-back against Chile will give Steve Borthwick food for thought ahead of World Cup quarter-finals

©David Howlett

Similar to Tom Brady, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. That’s what Harlequin center Lennox Anyanwu said about teammate Marcus Smith.

High praise indeed.

Just a week ago, Smith’s dazzling performance as a full-back against Chile put the spotlight on England’s potential new dimension at the World Cup, and the 24-year-old’s role as a second playmaker could be Steve ·What Steve Borthwick is concerned about. Used again, the quarter-final spots are now confirmed.

We might even see the Quins star don the number 15 shirt in England’s final group game against Samoa on Saturday, but Anyangwu has been handed the number four times since making his debut in December 2020 Having played alongside Smith at club level, he has a first-hand understanding of the world his team-mates possess with first-class quality.

“I’m not surprised,” Anyanwu said when asked about Smith’s ability to slot seamlessly into the full-back position. “I think Marcus has been one of the best players in the Premier League for over five years.

“He will be the same at international level. Just give him the ball and let him do his thing.”

Can Who fans expect Smith to emulate his recent form by wearing the number 15 jersey at The Stoop next season? “I don’t know,” Anyanwu said, but the youngster is more certain of the international quality of Smith’s training methods.

His praise for Smith’s daily influence at Harlequin could easily be mistaken for a tribute to his national team captain and team-mate Owen Farrell: “I know that every time he’s on the training ground, he’s There is an intensity that does not usually exist.” An Yanwu said.

“He wants to win practices. He plays well in games. He wants to win every practice.”

Anyangwu struggled to break through at Quins last season after spending time on loan at Richmond in the Championship, and it’s clear Smith’s drive is contagious. It’s this relentless approach to training that has earned the young center wider, even more illustrious, acclaim.

“I want him to be like those American sports stars that you hear about, their work rate and mentality. Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant. That work rate and mentality of getting better, That’s what you want.” Take it from Marcus, and that’s the light now. “

Although Smith and Anyangwu are only two years apart in age, it’s clear the Quins center looks up to Smith, and the same applies to now-former club teammate Joe Marchant.

The 27-year-old, who will join the Stade de France ahead of the 2023/24 season, has featured in all three of England’s World Cup matches so far – starting with Argentina and Japan – and Marchant is likely to be the favorite selected players. They will be wearing No. 13 when the quarterfinals come next week.

“Yeah, Marchant, who comes out of the Quins squad, means a lot to me,” said Anyangwu, who came on as a substitute in Harlequins’ 36-29 Premiership Rugby Cup win over Saracens at the weekend.

“I spoke to him a lot when I was growing up and I was a lot younger. He was like a regular at the club which was great for us young boys and he was very helpful. He was an all-round good guy , and he’s great on the court. He’s always there talking about things.

“Even now that he’s in Stade, you can send him a message, send him a video and he still responds.”

Quins complete their Premiership Rugby Cup campaign against Nottingham on Saturday and also faced Championship rivals Hartpury and Coventry last month.

After his experience in the Second Division while on loan away from Quins, Anyangwu believes the new format for this year’s Premier League Rugby Cup will benefit many Championship clubs: “I think it’s really good because it reminds English rugby of Championship football. Teams can be equally good at times like some Premier League teams.

“It allows them to play more games and get exposure. I know there are some young guys in the Championship teams who want to move on and have a go in the Premier League. Being able to get exposure to Premier League teams and play against them, The intensity feels really good. All it can do is improve rugby and England in general and that’s what we need.”

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