England: Marcus Smith identifies room for improvement on attack

David Skippers

Despite clinching a 2-1 series victory over the Wallabies in Australia, England fly-half Marcus Smith has identified attack as a facet of play which needs improvement for the November Tests.

England won the the second and third Tests in Brisbane and Sydney respectively to win the series in Australia for the second successive time, after also achieving the feat in 2016. But although they deserved their success, they seldom tested the Wallabies’ defence with their attacking play.

New approach

England have been working on sharpening their attack since last year, opting to take the ball through the phases and not relying on kicking too much.

That approach has yet to reap its rewards and with the World Cup just over a year away, Smith feels they now have to unleash their outside backs.

“This series has been a brilliant foundation and then on the back of that is our attacking game,” the 23-year-old said.

“With the players we have got we can score loads of tries. We have just scratched the surface of that and we are excited.

“Whoever gets the opportunity in the autumn is definitely going to take that forward and we have good momentum now.”

Fellow youngsters Freddie Steward (full-back) and Tommy Freeman (wing) impressed on attack and used their bulky frames to breach the Wallabies‘ defence in Saturday’s deciding Test in Sydney.

“When you have got brilliant runners in outside channels you have just got to feed them and they made themselves available in the backline,” added Smith.

“If you lob them the ball they nearly make a half-break, so they make you look all right!

“We scratched the surface in the third Test and we will review that, learn from it and we need to be better because it is a big year coming up.”

Smith’s partnership with Owen Farrell is one of the main aspects of England’s new attacking design. Although both play at fly-half for their clubs, Farrell has shifted to inside centre to accommodate Smith at Test level.

Partnership is in early stages

“We are still relatively new, we have only played four games together, which is very, very early,” Smith said.

“We have been challenging each other. He has been challenging me over the last few weeks to be myself and back myself and I have challenged him to be himself as well.

“When Owen is himself, he’s a brilliant player, he drives the team really well, communicates really well and he his energy is infectious across the team. I have loved playing with him.”

READ MORE: July internationals: England edge Australia in decider to take series 2-1