Marcus Smith takes a step forward as he helps England secure victory against Australia

Eddie Jones tried so hard last week to suppress expectations of Marcus Smith that he got himself into trouble by patronizing Emma Raducanu.

The English head coach should have let this game speak for itself instead. It was so grueling that even a player of Smith’s flamboyant talent had little chance of escaping his sullen clutches.

It was hardly Alas Smith and Jones, as England had comfortable 32-15 winners in a result that was gilded by an unlikely late attempt by hooker Jamie Blamire, and Smith ended the game with a swing, a penalty and a conversion after Owen Farrell was gone hurt.

Marcus Smith built his reputation further when he helped England defeat Australia

Farrell and Smith are a roundhead and cavalier partnership in midfield and this has been a day for the roundheads.

But it was another promising move for Smith in only his fourth international match against the best opponent he has come across. He dictated the pace of England’s game and did not allow himself to be disturbed in his team’s eighth win against Australia.

It also provided the moment of inspiration for England’s first attempt. With every game he plays, it becomes clearer that he represents England’s future.

Less than two years after the World Cup in France, and as the pace of change in the squad increased, we have reached a point in England’s development – and the development of the game in that country – where every game turns out to be a referendum on Jones’ term of office Head coach. Jones sets the tone and there are many who find this tone dissonant.

Smith will play a key role for England going forward and has helped set the pace of his team’s play

Maybe that’s always the case with top-class coaches, especially when they’re as bullish and confrontational and malicious as Jones. And control over England’s direction of travel continued to grow after England finished fifth in the Six Nations Championship earlier this year. Jones’ relationship with Smith becomes central to this direction of travel.

The dispute over Jones, more than anything, revolves around the culture that surrounds the site. In the lead up to this round of Autumn Internationals, his intransigence, ruthlessness and thirst for confrontation were all taken apart and used to illustrate the idea that he is not so much inspiring this English team as he is wearing them down.

An anecdote surrounded former assistant coach John Mitchell, who finally got tired of Jones’ incessant demands when Jones told him he couldn’t watch his son Daryl play cricket for Middlesex on his day off. Mitchell left anyway and shortly afterwards left the English line-up. As he proudly sat Mitchell in the stands in Abu Dhabi last week as Daryl led New Zealand’s impressive win over England in the World T20 semi-finals, it felt like he made the right choice.

Eddie Jones took a closer look at himself with his comments on Emma Raducanu

Jones also took a closer look at himself with his comments last week about British US Open winner Raducanu. “There’s a reason the young girl who won the US Open didn’t do so well after that,” he said. “What did you see her at – on the cover of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar or whatever it is, in Christian Dior clothing.”

Jones made the comments in connection with a discussion about Smith and the number of distractions young athletes face while trying to maintain their focus, but he has been sharply criticized for his at best condescending attitude towards Raducanu. He wrote her a letter and invited her to an England game in Twickenham. Your reaction remains unknown.

Jones is an avid student of other sports, but his foray into women’s tennis sparked a broader discussion about his attitudes towards high-profile, audience-friendly players like Smith and whether he – and the sport in general – distrusts them for their team ethos.

Smith has the talent, the extravagance and the image to become a crossover star for English rugby

“An attempt should be made to raise the profile and popularity of the game,” said Danny Cipriani, former English flyer, “because it hasn’t really developed in the last decade. Other sports have spawned superstars – and are very proactive – but rugby has never done that. The game almost fails that way because of the outdated attitude towards anyone who gets attention. ‘

Many believed that Cipriani didn’t get the opportunities his talent deserved because he assumed he was somehow too glamorous for rugby, and it was easy to interpret Jones’ comments about “the young girl” as an early warning to Smith, not to let his head droop from the attention that comes his way.

Smith has the talent, extravagance, and image to become a cross-over star that English rugby hasn’t had in a while, and even in the midst of a grueling battle with the die-hard Australian team, there were times when his skills had to shine made the difference and unlocked the opponents’ stubborn defenses.

Australia tried their best to knock Smith out of their game but he managed to shake it off

The most obvious example was just eight minutes into the game when Smith took the ball near Australian 22 at the perfect moment. It was a beautiful piece of timing and awareness. Steward sprinted across the trial line.

It was a grumpy game riddled with handling errors and the Australians tried several times to get Smith out of the game by targeting him with late hits. Hunter Paisami tried to hit Smith with a crunch in the next week after Smith let go of the ball but only managed to injure himself. Smith shook it off easily enough.

“If he takes 50 tests and wins a world championship, we can talk him out of it,” Jones said of Smith last week. Smith has at least made a promising start towards that goal.

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