The fly-half learnt the skill from watching William Ryder and Waisale Serevi

Marcus Smith sidestep inspired by Fijian legends

The Marcus Smith sidestep has become a common sight on rugby pitches in recent years.

Whether in the colours of Gallagher Premiership champions Harlequins, on the Twickenham turf for England or touring with the British & Irish Lions, the fly-half is capable of manipulating defences and creating scoring opportunities with his stepping skills.

Smith is known for his willingness to attack but how did he develop the skill-set to put his ideas in motion? The 22-year-old puts it down to attending the Hong Kong Sevens when he was younger.

The Smith family – dad Jeremy, mum Suzanne and sons Marcus, Luc and Tomas – attended the premier event on the sevens calendar half-a-dozen times while living in Asia, and Marcus was inspired by the feats he saw on the pitch.

He’d watch Fijian greats like Waisale Serevi and William Ryder create excitement for the fans with their sidesteps and offloads, then he would soon be trying to replicate those skills himself and aiming to outfox his younger brothers.

Here’s a look at two great tries scored by Serevi and Ryder in Hong Kong…

“At the Hong Kong Sevens, I used to watch the likes of William Ryder and Waisale Serevi and these sorts of players, who used to make the crowd get off their seats and bamboozle defenders,” says Smith.

“That inspired me to try to learn that. I’m still trying to get there but it’s exciting. I want to entertain and I want to get the crowd off their seats.”

He has certainly been doing that for Quins and England in recent months, helping both club and country to important victories.

Marcus Smith sidestep

Hot steppers Marcus Smith and William Ryder (Getty Images)

Smith finds it hard to describe how he sidesteps, particularly the fact that he often takes to the air before moving left or right, but he knows why.

He says: “It’s about making the defender do something and then you reacting to it quickly. I think that’s why I jump. I don’t exactly know why I jump, but it gives me a bit of time for the defender to come at me and on the back of that I’ll make my decision and choose my side.”

Read more from the Marcus Smith interview in the February 2022 edition of Rugby World, which goes on sale tomorrow.

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