Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton believes England counterpart Marcus Smith has “the world at his feet”.
Smith has shined during the first three rounds of his debut Guinness Six Nations campaign, and he currently leads the championship’s individual points table ahead of a potential meeting with Sexton at Saturday’s Twickenham showdown.
The 23-year-old, who helped Harlequins win the Gallagher Premiership title last season, just made his international debut last summer before being called up to join the British and Lions tour of South Africa.
Ireland captain Sexton has been impressed by Smith’s rapid development and believes his rival No. 10 will be influential in Tests for the next decade.
“Marcus has come in, he’s had a big impact on international rugby already,” said Sexton, who is more than 13 years Smith’s senior.
“He’s done so much at such a young age: to win the Premiership, to have got his English cap, to go on the Lions tour.
“He’s ticking a lot of boxes already and he’s got the world at his feet, really. It’s how he can keep those feet on the ground and keep working hard.
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“But he’s been very impressive so far and he’s shown all the tricks: short kicking game, good passing game, good running game, so he’s got it all and he’s going to be a big player over the next 10, 12 years for England.”
Ireland come to London knowing that defeat will remove the loser from this year’s title chase, and Sexton is expecting a difficult task.
“The last time we were there it didn’t go to plan,” he said.
“The last couple of times we were there we’ve been beaten once in a full stadium in the last game before Covid hit and then obviously we had a game during Covid (in the Autumn Nations Cup) and we didn’t come away with a win either time.
“They’re a top team, they’re ahead of us in the world rankings and we have it all to do away from home.
“We just need to concentrate on ourselves and make sure we do our prep in terms of their team and individuals and threats they pose.
“Ultimately it will come down to how we play on the day under the pressure they put on us.”