2022 Sharks vs Harlequin F.C.

Marcus Smith Ruled Out Of Champions Cup Opener With Ankle Injury

Marcus Smith Ruled Out Of Champions Cup Opener With Ankle Injury

Harlequins playmaker Marcus Smith has been ruled out of action for at least a month after sustaining an ankle injury in the Autumn Nations Series.

Dec 4, 2022 by RugbyPass
Marcus Smith Ruled Out Of Champions Cup Opener With Ankle Injury

Harlequins playmaker Marcus Smith has been ruled out of action for at least a month after sustaining an ankle injury on England duty in the Autumn Nations Series.  

The young fly-half hobbled off the Twickenham turf midway through his team's 27-13 loss to South Africa last weekend and is expected to miss his club's opening game in the Heineken Champions Cup next Saturday.

Harlequins will travel outside of Europe for the very first time in the competition and face off against the Cell C Sharks in Durban. The Londoners then will host Racing 92 in a tantalizing clash of attacking flair, before lining up against Bristol Bears at Twickenham in the first Big Game fixture of the Premiership season.

Smith will be dearly missed through this congested schedule and could be out for even longer, if the results of a specialist appointment next week bring more bad news.

If this were the case, additional clashes against the Northampton Saints and the high-flying Sale Sharks in the first week of January could be no-goes.  

It also places his availability for the upcoming Six Nations in jeopardy. 

England, which opens its account against Scotland on Feb. 4, will be searching for a shot at redemption, following a disappointing autumn campaign. 

Their chances of winning that clash will dampen if Smith is still out of action, harking back to a year ago when England was readying for a Six Nations without an injured Owen Farrell.

Whether an England fly-half will fill that mantle once more is yet to be determined. For now, it is Harlequins feeling the brunt of his absence.

Word of Smith's injury status emerged late on Friday night as Harlequins lined up to face Bath Rugby. In a pre-match interview with BT Sport, head coach Tabai Matson announced his playmaker would be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

"It's an ankle injury," Matson said. "He had a specialist have a look at him this week and will have another one next week. We know he is definitely out for a month, and then next week, we will get a bit more clarity around what those time frames are like."


When asked how Smith would fare without game time, Matson pointed toward his fly-half's relatively clean injury history as a positive omen.

"It's disappointing for him, but he is quite a resilient lad and he hasn't had many injuries, touch wood," Matson added.

Despite the setback, Harlequins managed to topple a resurgent Bath and extend its winning run to four games on the trot. The 19-13 win was anything but a formality and involved plenty of grueling defensive work to keep the hosts at bay.

It took less than six minutes for the deadlock to break, as Harlequins captain Alex Dombrandt barreled through flailing tacklers to score under the sticks.


Things got even better for the visitors midway through the first half when Oscar Beard stepped his way through traffic and dotted down resolutely.

Bath, finding itself behind at the break, struck back immediately when play resumed. 

It was winger Will Butt who provided the moment of magic, finding space down the left flank before dummying and sprinting to the line.

Harlequins then landed the crucial blow in the 52nd minute, when cute handling from Danny Care and Tommy Allan - standing in for the absent Smith - unleashed Nick David.

The try proved vital, as Bath remained out of reach for the remainder of the game, hampered by a lack of dominance at the set-piece.

Harlequins managed to hold on and win, despite finishing the match with 13 players, and now sits just two points behind the second-placed Sale Sharks in the Premiership table. 

"At the end of 80 minutes, considering the number of mauls and players we had in the bin, that is a courageous effort, and ultimately, pretty lucky," he said. "As we roll into Europe, we knew it was important to get a gritty win. People dug in tonight. We take a squad of 30 (to South Africa), flying Sunday evening. It's exciting."

Written by Stefan Frost