Marcus Smith: England rugby star says he doesn’t feel the pressure to be the country’s next big hope
If Marcus Smith needed any more reassurance that he is England rugby’s new poster boy, he got it this week when he was faced with questions about his latest boy band hairstyle.
Do his parents like it? Does it get in his eyes? Will he get cut? Welcome to the fame game.
Having established himself as the No. 10 in the country, Smith is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable faces in the sport. With the possible exception of Danny Cipriani, no young English rugby player has attracted so much attention since Jonny Wilkinson.
Marcus Smith is quickly establishing himself as one of the biggest stars in English rugby
He has scored tries in each of England’s first two Six Nations matches this year
Has Smith, who was named man of the match in Italy last Sunday, noticed more interest following his England exploits?
“I guess as a human being you hear about it and see it sometimes, but I try to keep my distance,” he said. “I kind of go from there. Walking through Guildford is always the same. I can always pick up my coffees and Nandos on my days off. I don’t get harassed too much…it’s not football.
“I’m very lucky to have brilliant people around me.”
As a regular guest at the Six Nations training base in England, Wilkinson is on hand to advise. The duo work closely together on the kicks – helping Smith become the competition’s leading points scorer after two rounds with 30 points – and discuss the pressures of the job.
Smith took advice from World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson (above)
Asked about the advice Wilkinson gave about his own struggles with the spotlight, Smith said, “It’s something you can’t really teach or prepare anyone for. It’s one of those things you have to experience easy or hard.
“Knock on wood, so far it hasn’t stressed me out. I am happy and enjoying my life at the minute.
‘I have been very lucky to work with Jonny for the past four years. Each time I meet him, I leave with a new breath of life. He teaches me a lot. Not just rugby, not just kicking, but a way of living life. How to be when the pressure is on, when there is no pressure, when things are going your way, when things are not going your way.
“If you can learn to control that stuff, eventually you become bulletproof, and that’s where he was towards the later stages of his career.” I learn a lot from him regarding my mental strength and stability.
In the past 12 months, Smith has barely taken a wrong foot. But his two brothers, Tomas and Luc, are there to keep his feet on the ground. They often tease him about his haircut and make sure he doesn’t suffer from an inflated ego.
“The other week I made a drop-goal that didn’t go over the bar, and my brothers just laughed their heads off, peppering me with pictures and videos,” Smith said. , 23 years. “These two are such a special tome.
Smith praised the support he has received from his family over the years
“Since I was young, back in Asia, we used to do rugby tours in Malaysia and those two wouldn’t play for their own teams because they wanted to watch me.
“They would travel to Australia and miss their own games to come and support me as a family. It was extremely special.
“It allowed us to travel as a family and stay together as a tight-knit group.
“If I start to outgrow my boots, my parents will step in and tell me I’m on the wrong track, that I’m not Marcus anymore. For me, that’s the most important thing, being true to myself.
The family will be on hand to offer more advice at Twickenham next week when England take on Wales. Smith will face fellow Lions tourist Louis Rees-Zammit, who shared tea boy duties as the youngest player on last summer’s tour of South Africa.
“At drinks parties and stuff like that, me, Louis Rees-Zammit and Tom Curry had to serve the boys’ drinks,” Smith said. “Stand up for the boys and get them glasses if they needed them.
Smith was part of the British and Irish Lions squad in 2021 and has been thriving ever since
“I guess it’s part and parcel of any living environment if you’re new to an environment, like doing the tea rounds I guess.
“My dad told me he used to do the tea rounds when he started working for an estate agent in Brighton. It happens everywhere.
“You have to do your job. It was the same with my mother when she worked at Cathay Pacific.
“I always do the tea rounds. When I was staying with Manu Tuilagi, we had a lot of teas together. Shortbread if we’re lucky. I obviously made them… he was on his bed playing chess! It is extremely important. It’s a way of bonding as a team, which is important to us as a new England group.
The New England project is well advanced. As for the new haircut, that will have to wait.
“I quite like that,” Smith said. “I grew up with long hair and my mom always wanted us to have long hair. She wanted us to be like the Jonas brothers when we were younger.
‘I have to keep her happy. It doesn’t distract me too much, only when it gets really wet. I take care of it by the minute and if it gets too distracting or gets unlucky, then I’ll get rid of it.