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Marcus the true master?

REACTION: England’s Marcus Smith said he feels like one of the team’s elder statesmen after leading them to a resounding 52-17 win over Japan in Saturday’s Test in Tokyo.

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The 25-year-old flyhalf scored a try and set up two more in the first half as England warmed up for two Tests in New Zealand against the All Blacks next month.

Smith was handed the No10 shirt ahead of 22-year-old Fin Smith, with Owen Farrell ineligible after deciding to continue his club career in France and George Ford injured.

Smith was winning his 33rd cap and he said it was “natural” that he was assuming more responsibility in the team.

“I feel old now in this squad,” said the Harlequins playmaker, who made his full England debut in 2021.

“It’s quite a youthful and exuberant squad.

“To be part of this squad, to be playing for England at this moment, I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

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“I think that’s the key for me – if I enjoy myself on and off the field, I can perform to the best of my ability in this team,” he added.

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Smith staked his claim to retain his place at flyhalf when England face the All Blacks in Dunedin on July 6 and Auckland on July 13.

He scored an impressive first-half try when he glided through the Japanese defence, before setting up Immanuel Feyi-Waboso for a score with a long pass.

He capped an all-action opening 40 minutes when his kick found Henry Slade for another England try, before he blotted his copybook with a second-half yellow card.

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Smith said he was learning from the other players and praised the team for a “ruthless and clinical” performance.

“Every single camp is very different – there’s always new players coming, there’s always new players going,” he said.

“I’m just enjoying the moment. Being on tour is special.”

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