Sean Long on Marcus Smith: “He pulls the strings” – Rugby World


Rugby league legend and former Harlequins assistant coach Sean Lengthy supplies an perception into the fly-half

Sean Lengthy on Marcus Smith: “He pulls the strings”

A couple of years in the past I used to be at a training seminar. All kinds of coaches have been there – tennis, soccer, rugby union, rugby league – and one presentation talked about this younger lad’s imaginative and prescient, how he was manner forward. Who was it? Marcus Smith.

From then on I adopted his progress and after I went all the way down to Harlequins in 2019, a number of the tens and 12s, like Marcus and James Lang, gravitated to me and began asking questions on stuff I’d accomplished in my profession as a participant. It was about passing on information.

Marcus is so inquisitive. We’d have a espresso each morning, do particular person coaching and opinions. He’s so devoted to rugby and could be on the market for hours after coaching, engaged on his kicking and passing. We’d be at work at 6.30am and depart about 5.30pm, and Marcus would nonetheless be floating round. He simply desires to get higher daily.

Sean Lengthy and Paul Gustard throughout their time at Harlequins (Getty Photographs)

And he’s so mature for his age. After I moved to Surrey I didn’t know anybody so on days off we’d go for walks and he’d take me to completely different eating places. It ought to have been the opposite manner round – I’m 44! – however he’s simply so mature.

I learnt from him too, about recreation administration. I’m from league so that you get the ball for six tackles; in union it’s completely different, so he talked about placing the ball in corners, constructing stress. That was sensible for me and we nonetheless have a extremely good relationship. He rings me fairly often to speak about various things within the recreation. He’s a great buddy, and is sort of a sponge.

You’ll be able to’t coach his imaginative and prescient and instinctiveness, however you’ll be able to assist. It’s issues like telling him to not race to a place early, taking his time to get there so the opposition don’t know which manner he’s going; you realize however they don’t. It’s trying up on the numbers, scanning – they’ve solely received 4 right here, so we’ll go this aspect or the winger’s up so put the ball within the backfield.

I at all times converse to him about being courageous and taking the ball to the road. Somewhat than move and slide off, take it to the road. He winds me up now, saying “Take it to the road, Longy” in a northern accent, however I simply need him to be courageous.


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For me, his greatest energy is his working recreation. Clearly he’s among the finest kickers within the Premiership – the stats let you know that as he gained the Golden Boot – nevertheless it’s that imaginative and prescient to see who’s in entrance of him, the place the drained ahead is, and to have a crack. If there’s a giant ahead, 6ft 7in, you may suppose, ‘I don’t need to run into him’. However on the flip aspect, he doesn’t need you to run at him so take him on.

It’s about taking part in to his strengths. He mentioned he needed to play like Danny Cipriani however I mentioned he ought to need to play like Marcus Smith. Danny is an excellent participant, among the finest, and he can do issues Marcus can’t do however Marcus can do a lot of issues Danny can’t do.

With out Marcus, I don’t suppose Quins would have gained the Premiership. Don’t get me incorrect, I’m not pinning it on one man. They’ve performed much more free-flowing rugby since Paul Gustard left however the pack has additionally been actually dominant, successful lineouts and scrums.

Wilco Louw and Joe Marler have been actually good, Scott Baldwin too; Steph Lewies has been excellent. The pack has received them going ahead and off the again of that Marcus is pulling the strings.

He’s the captain on the sphere. Chris Robshaw was captain after I was there however Marcus ran the present. He tells gamers what he desires, he learns all of the lineouts and talks about the place to win the ball, what play to run. He’ll sit down with Steph, the lineout caller, and undergo every part; he’s received that understanding.

What he’s accomplished in working the workforce for a couple of years now’s sensible. Usually tens don’t run a workforce till their late 20s. I used to be 24 after I began having the ability to management a recreation of league, so to do it at such a younger age he’ll solely get higher.

This text seems within the August 2021 version of Rugby World.

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