Marcus Smith insists he is ready to unite with Owen Farrell as England’s twin playmakers look to channel their competitive spirits against Australia.
Eddie Jones is likely to entrust Smith and Farrell with the keys to England’s attack in the series opener at Perth’s Optus Stadium just three weeks after they clashed in the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals.
Farrell’s Saracens were triumphant that day, but he is likely to be moved from his preferred position at fly-half to inside centre to accommodate Smith, who has been Jones’ first choice in the position.
It was a creative axis seen only for 68 minutes against the Wallabies in the autumn and while it showed promise, successive ankle injuries affected Farrell’s season.
Now working in tandem as part of England’s squad that will clash with Australia over three Tests beginning on July 2, Smith is enjoying the chance join forces once again.
“Owen’s a brilliant player. I loved playing with him in the autumn,” Harlequins outside-half Smith said.
“He’s a massive competitor and wears his heart on his sleeve. More than that, he’s got brilliant vision and skills at the line.
“We trained together a couple of weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. I’ve loved learning off him and bouncing ideas off him.
“We complement each other nicely – we both see the game pretty similarly. I hope we can both come together and get the best out of each other.
“Hopefully I can be there to get the best out of him and allow him to show his skills on the park. Hopefully he can also allow me to show the best of me.
“If we can do that together and continue to build our relationship off the field, I think it will lead to good results and days on the field.
“Hopefully we can put our competitive edge together to try and get a Test series win. Both of us want to do that. We’ve spoken long and hard about it.”
Smith, 23, is embarking on his first senior England tour a year after breaking into the team and despite his rookie status, he understands what is at stake against the Wallabies.
“The England and Australia rivalry is obviously huge, not just in rugby but in cricket and all other sports,” Smith said.
“My dad instilled in me as a young kid that there is a lot of rivalry and confrontation in those games.
“I remember when I was younger in the Philippines, my grandparents lived in England.
“We grew up in the Philippines and my step grandad actually flew over from England to watch the Ashes.
“He watched all five Test matches in a pub called The Heckle and Jeckle in Manila. I don’t know what my dad was doing, but he was missing work to watch it too with the time zone!
“It’s been instilled in me and my two younger brothers for a long time. Mum has had to buy in as well! It’s one of those rivalries you want to be a part of.”