Marcus Smith admits ‘hurt’ over underperforming for Harlequins after England star made mistake of rushing back into action after the World Cup

  • Marcus Smith helped England finish third at the World Cup in France 
  • He has featured in every game for Quins since coming back from World Cup
  • The 24-year-old was man of the match in win over Racing 92 at the weekend

Marcus Smith admitted he returned from World Cup duty with England too soon and should have taken a break before playing for Harlequins again after getting back to his enterprising best.

Smith helped Steve Borthwick’s national side finish third at the global showpiece in France earlier this year and played the majority of the tournament at full-back instead of his favoured No 10 position. 

The 24-year-old has featured in every game for his club since coming back from international action.

Smith now believes that was a mistake but he was certainly back firing on all cylinders at the weekend.

He was man of the match in a famous 31-28 win over Racing 92 in Paris, scoring a try and kicking four conversions and a 45-metre drop goal for a 16-point haul.

Marcus Smith has featured in every game for Harlequins since coming back from World Cup

‘I think it was quite difficult for me to come back from the World Cup,’ Smith said. ‘It took me a few weeks. I was underperforming in the first few games I played back in the Quins shirt which hurt me to be honest because I take pride in the way I train and play at the weekend.’

The wellbeing of and demands on England’s top rugby stars has become a big talking point after captain Owen Farrell decided to take a break from Test action to prioritise his and his family’s mental health. Smith said he has learned resting in the future will help him prolong his career.

‘I had two weeks off in the off season and three weeks of training because I didn’t want to miss the jump. I was desperate to get on that World Cup tour,’ he said.

‘I think I was a bit naive in thinking I could just come back straight away and slip in. But it’s a good learning for next time – just to understand better when to say no.

‘I love playing for this club and playing rugby and I wanted to do that as soon as I got back, but I think in hindsight I should have taken a week off.

‘I can’t speak on Owen’s situation. I wish him all the best with his decision and I keep in contact with him. I was so desperate to come back and so eager to play again, but I also need to look after my mind and body to make sure I have longevity in the game. I feel really good now on the back of the last two-and-a-half weeks.’

The fly-half led Harlequins to a famous win over Racing 92 in Paris at the weekend

The fly-half led Harlequins to a famous win over Racing 92 in Paris at the weekend

With Farrell missing next year’s Six Nations and likely all of 2024 in terms of international action, the England fly-half jersey is set to pass to one of George Ford or Smith.

The latter was in sensational form as he helped Harlequins down Racing.

There is no playmaker in the English game with the running and attacking threat to rival that of Smith. ‘I love playing rugby and I love playing for Quins and I’m so invested in that at the minute. A lot can happen between now and whenever the England squad is announced,’ he said.

Smith also said moving from the 15 shirt back to No 10 was part of the reason why he wasn’t at his best in his first few games with Harlequins.

He has also received help from his club’s psychologist.

After returning from Paris La Defense Arena with a five-point win over the leaders of the French TOP14, Harlequins face more Gallic opposition in the Champions Cup this weekend.

Toulouse – the champions of France – are their next opponents at The Stoop on Sunday.

The 24-year-old helped Steve Borthwick's England finish third at the World Cup in France

The 24-year-old helped Steve Borthwick’s England finish third at the World Cup in France

‘It’s going to be an exciting game. Hopefully the weather permits a free-flowing game like we both want,’ Smith said of facing Antoine Dupont and Co.

‘They have stars across the field who can strike from anywhere – similar to Racing. There will be a few sore bodies from this game so we’ll have to do our best to recover as well as we can and get our emotions right. In this competition you can’t switch off for a second, especially in your home games. We want to kick on in this competition.’

Sunderland’s Stadium of Light will play host to England’s Red Roses in the opening match of the 2025 Women’s World Cup. The tournament will be hosted exclusively in England.

The RFU and World Rugby have targeted selling out Twickenham for the final and breaking the record for an attendance for a women’s match.