England head coach Eddie Jones has taken a swipe at 18-year-old US Open champion Emma Raducanu in a warning to wunderkind flyhalf Marcus Smith not to get distracted.
Smith, who helped steer Harlequins to an English Premiership title last season, is considered one of England’s most promising talents.
However, the 22-year-old played off the bench in the 69-3 victory over Tonga despite captain Owen Farrell being ruled out of the match due to a positive Covid-19 test.
When Jones was asked about Smith, the England coach said that the youngster would have to stay grounded, making a comparison with Raducanu, who in September became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since 1977.
Since winning the US Open, Raducanu has lost just two games: in the first round of the Indian Wells Open and then at the quarter-final stage of the Transylvania Open last month.
“The big thing for young players is distractions,” Jones said. “Distractions can be the exposure they get in the media, the praise and criticism they get, groups of agents who see this guy as the next big thing.
“There’s a reason why the girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards. What have you seen her on? The front page of Vogue, the front page of Harper’s Bazaar, whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes.
“He is grounded, but they all start off grounded. No one starts with their feet off the ground or they don’t get in the team, or they don’t win a US Open. But there’s this flood of distractions that comes in that makes you ungrounded.”
England will next face Australia at Twickenham and will have Farrell back in the squad after his test was deemed a false positive.
Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge