‘Oh s***!’ – England hopeful reacts to Steve Borthwick’s appearance

Jared Wright
Northampton Saints' Fin Smith and England rugby head coach Steve Borthwick.

Northampton Saints' Fin Smith and England rugby head coach Steve Borthwick.

Northampton Saints fly-half Fin Smith has set his sights on an England debut after catching the eye of Red Rose head coach Steve Borthwick.

The 21-year-old produced a classy performance in Northampton’s 34-19 victory over Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership on Sunday, earning the man of the match award.

“I saw Steve on the big screen”

During the match, the youngster had spotted the England boss Bortwhick in attendance at the ground.

“I saw Steve on the big screen at one point and thought ‘oh s**t!’. He dropped me a nice message after the game to say he thought it went well, which was good,” Smith said.

“I set out a few goals for myself at the start of the season, and at the top of that list was getting a cap for England this season.

“It’s a cliché answer, but I’ve got to make sure I’m doing well for my club, and hopefully, the recognition will come from Steve.”

England are well stocked in the fly-half position currently, with Owen Farrell, George Ford and Marcus Smith all contenders for the jersey for the 2024 Six Nations.

While Smith also qualifies for Scotland through his parents, he has his heart set on playing for England, having already been included in extended training squads during the 2023 Six Nations and World Cup preparations.

“There are some brilliant fly-halves ahead of me in Owen, George and Marcus, but if the opportunity came, I’d be delighted and more than ready to go,” said Smith, who joined Saints after Worcester’s financial collapse last season.

“I’ve got so many things I need to keep working at to get to the level of Owen, George and Marcus.

“I’ve just got to focus on playing well. Selection, if I get picked, would be great; if not, I’ll just keep working hard. Hopefully, I’ll get there eventually.”

Work ons

The Saints star was in camp with England for three weeks ahead of the World Cup before ultimately being cut when numbers were reduced.

However, Borthwick and his staff did provide Smith with a clear picture of what he must do to challenge the current pecking order.

“Steve has given me the feedback that I have a strong kicking game, and I can manage a game quite well,” he said.

“The way we play at Northampton traditionally has been to move the ball and run a lot.

“Steve felt he hadn’t seen as much of my kicking game when I’ve been playing for Northampton so he’s challenged me to find ways to control matches with my kicking, while continuing to find space, which he thinks is one of my big strengths.

“So this season I’ve been working really hard to find a balance of when to run and do the stuff that people associate with Northampton, but when the opportunities aren’t there to put pressure on the opposition with a chip in behind or trying to find grass with my boot.”

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