Harlequins’ Marcus Smith was today hailed as the Premiership’s best fly-half as he was named Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Month for February 2021.
Smith was in irresistible form in February as Harlequins won three out of four matches and roared into the Gallagher Premiership play-off picture, earning accolades from BT Sport pundit and Gallagher ambassador Ugo Monye.
“Marcus has had an unbelievable season, I don’t think there’s a better fly-half in the country at the moment,” said Monye, who spent more than a decade at Harlequins. “He’s showing incredible maturity, and his ability to be able to create tries for himself and others has been excellent. Then there’s his goal kicking, defence – he’s taken his whole game to another level this year.
“He’s been a huge part of Harlequins winning run, you look at the way they like to play. They’re all built to run with the ball in hand, and that’s exactly the type of attacking rugby that Marcus Smith plays.
“When you’ve got a No.10 who is playing as well as he is, it drives the standards of everyone else and that’s when you see the kind of results and upturn of fortunes that we have seen with Quins over the last five or six weeks.”
Harlequins fan and chief financial officer for Gallagher in the UK, Charlie Scott, added his congratulations: “Delighted to see Marcus voted player of the month in the Gallagher Premiership. He’s a huge young talent at the club, giving his all in every match and often in a game-changing way. With his superb control, ability to slice clean through the opponent’s defence and countless conversions and penalty kicks, Marcus has played a big part in Quins’ recent rise up the table, making him a very worthy winner.
“As a business, we’re really looking forward to being able to get back into stadiums to show our support locally for each of the Premiership Rugby clubs. And, as a Quins supporter, I’m very much looking forward to returning with my family to the fervent fan community and lively camaraderie of The Stoop.”
Monye has seen Quins turn a corner, with a focus on youth, and he believes Smith is revelling in this, adding: “We’ve seen a big change of style of rugby at Quins. The players are playing with a bit more freedom and are allowed to express themselves a bit more.
“Marcus, alongside a lot of other young talented players within that club, has been able to drive that, and he’s been integral to everything that they’ve been about with his attitude and his effervescent nature of wanting to play rugby. They get excited with the ball in their hands, and they’ve scored some remarkable tries over a number of weeks. It’s not just exciting rugby to watch, it’s also really effective as well.”
Monye also believes it is only a matter of time before Smith’s club form translates into a place on the Test scene, saying: “He has to be considered internationally soon. He wants to become the best player in the world, and I’d love to see him get a shot on the international stage.”
Smith – as part of his prize for being named Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Month – has the opportunity to donate a shirt signed by the whole Harlequins squad and framed by Gallagher to a charity of his choice to help them raise funds for their cause. Smith was judged by a panel of experts as the player who made the biggest impact in Gallagher Premiership Rugby in February 2021.
He was involved in a three-way battle to win the award eventually beating Exeter Chiefs’ No 8 Sam Simmonds and Northampton Saints Dave Ribbans to the title.
Smith was voted for by a panel of media professionals based on his performances in February, alongside a public poll on the Premiership Rugby app, which drew more than 1,900 votes. The judges were: Nick Mullins (BT Sport), Alastair Eykyn (BT Sport), Mick Cleary (The Daily Telegraph), Sarah Mockford (Rugby World), Jonny Fordham (The Sun), Jill Douglas (Broadcaster), Craig Swayne (Fab Rugby), Chris Jones (BBC 5 Live), David Rogers (Getty Images) and Tom Hamilton (ESPN). The panel was chaired by Paul Morgan, Premiership Rugby's Communications Director.