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Lions rookie Smith pumped-up for plenty of South African niggle

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LION cub Marcus Smith is ready to get stuck into some South African beef.

Filipino-born Smith only made his England debut two weeks ago and received his dream tour call-up whilst playing at Twickenham last Saturday.

Marcus Smith makes his first start on Saturday – just five days after arriving in South Africa

The 22-year-old Thrilla from Manilla should have been at Wembley for England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy the next day.

But instead the Harlequins playmaker was boarding a plane to the Southern Hemisphere.

And ahead of his first appearance against The Stormers in Cape Town, 5ft 9ins Smith said: “I love playing against them, they play with their heart on their sleeve.

“They are very aggressive, they like their niggly stuff, so I am excited for that.

“And when I can have a go against the big boys if I get the space I will back myself there and see what happens.

The Lions face The Stormers on Saturday

“We have spoken about their physicality, but it is nothing we can’t handle for sure. We are excited for the challenge.”

Smith was a shock pick for the Lions when he was drafted in as cover for injured Finn Russell who is struggling with a minor tear in his achilles.

Boss Warren Gatland told the Premiership winner that he was in his thoughts before England boss Eddie Jones had even capped him.

So it completes a whirlwind 2021 for a player who 12 years ago watched the Lions from Asia

Smith added: “I remember watching 2009 with my dad.

“I was still in Singapore at the time and I remember being excited about how loud the stadiums were and the sea of red fans who travelled to South Africa.

“It was a massive spectacle and it made me really desperate to get on one in the future. I was ten years old and I loved it.

“I’ve then played with people like Jamie Roberts who was on that tour. And he sent me a nice message this week as well.”

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