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England ponder switching 'magician' Smith to full-back

England's Marcus Smith (centre) beats Fiji's Lekima Tagitagivalu to score a try after coming on at full-back in a pre-2023 World Cup warm-up Test match (Ian Kington)
England's Marcus Smith (centre) beats Fiji's Lekima Tagitagivalu to score a try after coming on at full-back in a pre-2023 World Cup warm-up Test match (Ian Kington)

Backs coach Kevin Sinfield admitted that England are looking at switching mercurial fly-half Marcus Smith to full-back for the World Cup.

Smith arrives at the tournament in France as England's third choice fly-half behind Owen Farrell, who is suspended for Saturday's group stage opener against Argentina, and George Ford.

But a couple of cameos off the bench at full-back during a disjointed World Cup build-up has created some excitement around Smith's potential to switch roles.

"You'll have all seen what a magician he is with the ball," Sinfield told reporters at England's tournament base in northern France.

"He can step off both feet, he's quick, he can beat players for fun, so why not try and give him a bit more time and space than he would typically get at 10? Try and get him a little bit wider.

"We've been working on it for some weeks now with him in training."

Sinfield revealed that when approached about the possible positional switch, Smith admitted he had never played at full-back before but "would love to."

Standing at just five feet nine inches and weighing just over 80 kilogrammes, Smith is dwarfed by England's regular full-back Freddie Steward.

Sinfield insisted that playing Smith, 24, at full-back would not require a change of tactics or style, although he admitted the fly-half's skill set was completely different to Steward's.

"It would be crazy of us to put Marcus in the team and not try to put the ball in his hands and give him space to attack," Sinfield told reporters.

"Now, is it a different attacking threat to Fred? As you rightly point out, Fred is 6-feet 4-inches and 105 kilogrammes, so he brings a different threat to Marcus when he carries the ball.

"But you guys have seen Marcus and reported on Marcus and seen what he can do with the ball: he's a magician."

The extra full-back option "brings something different, it gives us that variation."

Veteran scrum-half Danny Carte, a Harlequins team-mate of Smith's, believes England simply have to find any way they can to get him in the team.

"It amazes me how he keeps getting better, the potential he has is frightening," said Care.

Even with Farrell missing England's first two pool stage matches against Argentina and Japan through suspension, Ford is still likely to get the nod over Smith at fly-half.

"You'd love to have all three of them on the pitch," said Care.

"Marcus is one of the brilliant players we've got here. The idea is to get him on the ball in space and to do that we've got to run hard and win some collisions and get some quick ball."