Rugby’s new Jonny Wilkinson Marcus Smith backed to handle the England spotlight

EDDIE JONES believes that Marcus Smith can handle the Twickenham hype train.

And he also revved-up dumped stars George Ford, Jamie George and the Vunipola brothers to try and join the twice-capped golden boy on the bus to the World Cup.

Marcus Smith was also handed a dream Lions call-up this summer, now he is set to star at Twickenham next month


Marcus Smith was also handed a dream Lions call-up this summer, now he is set to star at Twickenham next month

Jones handed the keys to the Red Rose motorcade to 22-year-old Smith and will start him in the no.10 shirt against Tonga, Australia and South Africa next month.

And the fired-up Aussie boss reckons that the Premiership winner and Lion tourist can handle the heat that comes with following in the footsteps of the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, current skipper Owen Farrell and Ford.

Jones said: “That’s always the big test for players – how they handle either the criticism or the adulation and keep perspective.

“The best players in the world will keep perspective, because they’re never as good as people say they are never as bad as people say they are.

“That’s the test of a young player coming through.

“We wouldn’t have selected Marcus if we didn’t think he could handle that. We think he can.

“But we’ll have to make sure as a coaching staff we guide him and give him advice when it’s needed.

“And I’m sure he’s got his own advice committee outside the team that’s going to be important for him.

“So there’s an opportunity for him to add his own flavour and strengths to the team.

“The role of the 10 is to be the bus driver and the conductor.

“He’s got to create a route for the team, a place for the team to go and then be able to get the team to play to that beat.

“It’s a combination of being a team player and being an individual player.”

Jones called on four uncapped players with hooker Nic Dolly, winger Tommy Freeman, centre Mark Atkinson and scrum-half Raffi Quirke all set for Test debuts.

And speaking of axing stalwarts Billy, Mako, Ford and George, he added: “I think Gareth Southgate made a very relevant comment – every time a head coach in England makes a selection, it is like you have committed a crime.

“It is difficult leaving out those senior players. They have been great players, they have been loyal and done well for you.

“But the job of the head coach is to make judgement and the judgement is that we need to move onto a World Cup selection process now and those guys can come back into it.

“I hope I see more from them so they give me more headaches in the future. We have a number of players who’ve been through two World Cup campaigns.

“With the third World Cup campaign, my experience tells me that some players want to go to the World Cup, but they don’t really have the will to prepare to win the World Cup.”

England wonderkid Marcus Smith called up by boss Eddie Jones for this autumn’s internationals at Twickenham

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