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Marcus Smith: I struggled to adapt back to fly-half after Rugby World Cup

Marcus Smith - I struggled to adapt back to fly-half after Rugby World Cup
'Perhaps I was slightly naïve in thinking it would be easier than it has been,' Marcus Smith says - Getty Images/Alex Davidson

Marcus Smith has revealed that he has found life at Harlequins tough since returning from the Rugby World Cup.

Having trained and played at full-back for the majority of his time in France, Smith has discovered it is much more difficult than anticipated to switch straight back to fly-half in the Premiership.

The 24-year-old has even consulted the Harlequins psychologist to help resolve his mental playing hang-ups and to help get him “back on track”.

Smith said that, until producing his inspirational display in Quins’ resounding victory over Sale Sharks last Friday, he had been “unhappy” with his form.

“Perhaps I was slightly naïve in thinking it would be easier than it has been,” Smith said.

“It’s taken a bit longer than I’d have liked but the people at the club always put their arm around me and back me. To have that confidence behind me – which I’ve had for the last six years – is very special for me and my family.

“I tried to bring it back to basics, enjoy my rugby because I love playing here and love this club. I also had a good chat with the coaches and psychologist at the club.

“It was just about getting back on the train, putting my super strengths on the park, making good decisions, and off the back of that I can influence the team and lead.”

Smith added: “I have done a lot of reflecting recently. I had not been happy with my performances over the past three weeks and found it hard. The six months prior to that I had been predominantly playing 15 and training there too. Playing 10 is a different position and it’s about getting some minutes back there.”

However, Smith resumed normal service with his player of the match performance against Sale and England rival George Ford in front of a watching Steve Borthwick.

Smith now has two mouth-watering contests with French giants Racing 92 on Sunday and then Toulouse the following weekend in the Champions Cup to help build his case to fill the now vacant England No 10 jersey at the start of the Six Nations.

Smith immediately reached out to Owen Farrell as soon as he heard of his England team-mate’s unexpected decision to take a prolonged break from the international stage.

Quins director of rugby Billy Millard hopes Smith can be the catalyst for the club enjoying a long and successful European campaign.

“It was a big adjustment for Marcus to come back from France and try and get going again. It’s a bit like going on a school camp where you know everyone but you get there on day three. It takes a while to get into a groove,” Millard said.

“He is still just 24 and going to get better. Marcus just wants to ball and wild, and we want him to be wild. He gives us go-forward and presence. You just want him to keep throwing it out there.

“We have two huge games in Europe ahead, and you want all your players, not just your internationals, ready to produce their very best on these occasions.”

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