Dylan Hartley hopes Eddie Jones will hand Marcus Smith the No 10 shirt for England’s autumn Test campaign, to form a revamped creative hub with captain Owen Farrell.
Former skipper Hartley has backed Farrell, his successor, to survive any overhaul of the back line for fixtures against Tonga, Australia and South Africa at Twickenham next month.
But Hartley is adamant that Smith should be selected as the primary playmaker, with one eye on the next World Cup in 2023.
Dylan Hartley hopes Eddie Jones will hand Marcus Smith the No 10 shirt for the autumn Tests
The Harlequins sensation marked his return to club action with a sublime performance to inspire his side’s recovery from a 21-0 deficit to thrash Bristol 52-24 at the Stoop last Friday.
It was a vivid reminder of the precocious talent which saw the 22-year-old make his England debut in the summer, before joining the Lions as a late call-up.
Asked if Smith’s electric exploits could force Jones’s hand, Hartley said: ‘Yeah. Give Marcus a go. It’s a bold statement of what this England team is about if he gets a shot. It’s not fanfare, it’s warranted.
Hartley is adamant Smith should be selected as the primary playmaker, with one eye on 2023
Smith marked his return to action with Harlequins with a sublime performance against Bristol
‘Is he the future in that fly-half shirt? He is going to have to go through some hurt and some lessons in his international career. We can’t just expect him to go out there, score a hat-trick and kick all the points. There’s going to be some things where we all say, “Oh, he didn’t manage the game very well”. He’s still a young kid but the sooner we do that, the better it is for 2023. That needs to start.
‘Eddie needs to think, “Who’s my fly-half for that World Cup?” It would be really bold to put