Last November, Marcus Smith kicked and ultimately inspired England’s rugby team to a deserved win over South Africa at Twickenham. In doing so, England went some way to avenging the 2019 World Cup final defeat that every English fan would rather forget.
In front of a raucous crowd, as well as millions of television screens across the country, a star was born. In the ensuing days, England head coach Eddie Jones’s words of advice regarding Smith may have been clunky – he compared the 23-year-old’s sudden rise in stardom to Emma Raducanu’s – but the sentiment was clear: Smith represented the future of England rugby.
Nearly a year down the track, after a breakout season for Harlequins and 18 caps to his name for England – which includes a victorious tour of Australia (“winning in Australia was amazing and something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid”) , Marcus Smith looks relaxed and refreshed. He spent the summer with his family and friends in Brighton and LA, playing golf, tennis and generally just chilling.
Today, he’s just been put through his paces in one of Harlequin’s first pre-season training sessions back, but looks a picture of good health, admitting he was “chomping at the bit to get back training and get fit again.”
Smith is eager to start off the season strong and hopes he can add something to the team and make an impact. Speaking to GQhe spills the beans on his fitness routine, the importance of taking care of himself, as well as what he eats ahead of a big game.
Embracing the off-season
“When I was younger, I used to just let loose for five weeks, which is the wrong practice completely. More recently, I’ve tried to focus on my diet, really tighten down the carbs and stuff like that. The first two or three weeks off I’ll try and stay off my feet to give my legs a bit of recovery. I’ll do upper body gym and any rehab stuff. For the last few weeks, I was training a lot in LA with a coach over there. He told me things about my balance, working on my glutes and firing them up before I run. I’ve got two younger brothers who are willing to train with me so it doesn’t feel too lonely.”
“Pre-season is an opportunity to work on any flaws that the physios see because you always want to come back in the new season with at least one element better than it was in the past. For me, the biggest thing I’ve been focused on is my single leg stability. To do that you need strong glutes, hammies and quads, as well as a solid ankle. General upper body strength is something I want to improve on, you see the likes of [South Africa’s] Antoine DuPont is an absolute machine and like me, he’s not very tall. I want to get to his size up top – I’ll get there one day! For pre-season, I’ll probably do three upper body sessions a week and one or two lower. That’s a lot more intense because there’s no pressure of a match on the weekend. Having good rehab and recovery protocols in place to keep my shoulders and hips strong is important too.