England’s Smith called up to Lions tour after Russell Achilles problem

Marcus Smith
Smith was the top points-scorer in the Premiership this season with 286, nearly 100 more than anyone else

England fly-half Marcus Smith will join up with the British and Irish Lions squad in South Africa as cover for Scotland’s Finn Russell.

The 22-year-old was key in Harlequins’ run to the Premiership title this season and gained his first Test caps against the United States and Canada.

Russell, 28, is ruled out until the start of the three-Test series on 24 July with an Achilles problem.

“I was shaking. I can’t believe it. It’s amazing,” Smith told Channel 4.

“It’s been a brilliant last couple of weeks. I couldn’t have done it without my family and my team-mates at Quins.

“I will have to pinch myself a little bit on the plane. It’s a dream come true if I get the opportunity to play for the Lions, it’s the pinnacle of any player.

“It will be special. The last four weeks have been amazing.”

Smith’s free-running style, similar to Russell, brings an attacking threat at 10. However, he has only just broken through at international level.

He won his first cap when a new-look England team beat the United States 43-29 earlier this month – and made a second appearance against Canada on Saturday, scoring 18 points in their 70-14 success.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland said: “We’re obviously disappointed for Finn, who I think has been outstanding since he came into camp in Jersey, but we are optimistic he’ll still play an important role in the Tour.

“We have two experienced fly-halves in Owen Farrell and Dan Biggar, so it’s a great opportunity for the continued development of Marcus.

“Finn and Marcus are similar in that they like to play with a bit of freedom, so, for me, it’s as close to a like-for-like cover as we can get.”

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