Eddie Jones insists England can’t rely solely on Marcus Smith

England head coach Eddie Jones is in agreement that Marcus Smith has an important role to play for his country, but he won't be expected to go it alone.

The Harlequins fly-half is one of several younger talents who grasped their opportunities during the autumn and helped England see out an unbeaten series against Tonga, Australia and South Africa.

The Red Rose ended its November slate with a hard-fought 27-26 win over the Springboks on Saturday, where Smith successfully steered the ship while captain Owen Farrell was out injured.

Excitement continues to build around Smith's development as the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France draws closer, but Jones is eager to ensure the focus remains on the team as a whole.

When asked by Sky Sports whether Smith will become the foundation for his last campaign at the helm, the 61-year-old said rugby won't allow for that kind of one-dimensional thinking.

"You can't build the team around one player, because in international rugby, [you] very rarely get your best players available all the time," Jones said.

"But certainly he's one of the key guys going forward, that if he keeps his form, fitness and desire, he's going to be an important part of the team.

"Every media outlet at the moment is talking about him as the pin-up boy of England rugby.

"We've got to just make sure we give him the care and support he needs. He's a good boy, he's got a good family, and I'm sure he's gonna keep heading in the right direction."

Jones' description of his latest break-out star as a "key guy" is at least acknowledgement of the special talent he has at his disposal.

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One could easily argue Smith provides England something they've never had before, and while the team's tactics remain paramount, there are skills he offers that few others can.

"This autumn he's continued to progress, continued to impress, and we don't know how good a player he can be," Jones added after Smith started in wins over Australia and South Africa.

Those were the 22-year-old's first two starts against Tier 1 opposition, and most fans would agree he passed the examinations with flying colours.

The same could be said for 20-year-old Leicester Tigers full-back Freddie Steward, who scored pivotal tries in both of England's two major autumn Tests.

Jones was recently criticised for using teenage British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu to illustrate how young sports stars can allow their standards to slip in the face of off-field distractions.

However, he'll have a job in keeping his young stars grounded, with 20-year-old scrum-half Raffi Quirke also in the headlines following his crucial try against South Africa.

The coach agreed his squad has "a really good mix at the moment," with a number of his more experienced assets eyeing their last shot at World Cup glory in a little less than two years.

Barring any unforeseen obstacles, it's a guarantee the likes of Smith and Steward will be essential members of the England set-up by then, such is their progress so early in their careers.

That will lead to a natural surge in attention, but Jones is resolute in his belief no one man can be considered the heartbeat of the team, regardless of the rare potential they've showcased thus far.

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