Harlequins star Marcus Smith has vowed that the Gallagher Premiership’s great entertainers will perform “with a smile on our face” when they target a place in this season’s Twickenham final.
Quins, led by their gifted fly-half playmaker, head to regular season table-toppers Bristol on Saturday for a first play-off appearance since 2014, while they were last crowned English champions nine years ago.
Champions Exeter or resurgent Sale await at Twickenham next week, and victory over Bristol could see Smith back there eight days later for a widely expected England debut against the United States.
Quins have scored more Premiership points than any other team this term, averaging 32 a game, while only Exeter have racked up more tries.
Smith has amassed 270 points, including eight of those touchdowns, and continues to suggest he is potentially England’s finest fly-half talent since Jonny Wilkinson.
Born in the Philippines – his mother is Filipino and father English – Smith honed his rugby skills at Brighton College before joining Quins and making a first-team debut at the age of 18.
“It has been a long time for this brilliant club to be in the top four again, and we’ve spoken about how big an opportunity this is,” Smith said.
“We are buzzing for the challenge, we are desperate to get to the Premiership final across the road from our home.
“To play against the top team in the league, who have been leading the charge all season, is very exciting.
“We are going down there to win, and we are going down there to play the Harlequins way – with a smile on our face and enjoying ourselves – because that is how we feel we perform best.
“The message will be about being ourselves and staying true to our identity. We will back ourselves to go down there and give our best 80-minute performance.”
Smith has been in and around England squads under head coach Eddie Jones but, given current form, it would be a major surprise if he is not promoted to starting duty for next month’s Twickenham appointments with the United States and Canada.
With England captain Owen Farrell on the British and Irish Lions’ South Africa tour and George Ford rested from Test duty this summer, it offers Jones a golden opportunity to let Smith run the show.
“It is a dream of mine to play for England,” Smith added. “It has always been a dream since I started playing rugby when I was 13.
“Hopefully, if I get an opportunity in the near future I will be able to translate my performances for club to international. But I have never played for England, so I don’t know what it is like yet.
“I’ve got to fit into the team around me, it’s not just about me, I have got to fit into the game plan, the system that Eddie and the other England coaches want to play.
“I hope I can add something if I get an opportunity. Until I get an opportunity, I guess no one will know.
“My dad is a very passionate Englishman, as I am, and whenever we watch Six Nations games or autumn internationals I get massively excited when England win and massively disappointed when they lose.
“I still watch it as a fan, and I don’t think I will ever lose that if I am watching, but I also think about putting myself in those scenarios.
“I’ve got a brilliant support team around me in my family and my close friends. They keep my thoughts in check and keep me on the path to achieving what I want to achieve in hopefully my long career.”
Despite his tender years Smith is already a role model to many, and he said: “I am very proud of being born in the Philippines and I lived some of my life back there.
“If I can be of any inspiration at all to any young player in England, the Philippines or anywhere, I would love to do that, and it’s a privilege and an honour.
“It is about delivering good performances week in and week out for a club I love, doing my friends and family proud. Hopefully in turn, that will encourage people to get out and play rugby because it’s good fun for me and I hope it’s good fun for them as well.”